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New report on Immigration policy

Current immigration policy is choking business growth for zero political gain, a new report from think tank, CentreForum, warns.

In the first of three publications aimed, it says, at setting a ‘liberal’ immigration agenda for 2015, the think tank urges government to focus on the quality, not quantity, of skilled workers coming to Britain from outside the European Union.

The report joins calls to scrap the policy of reducing net migration to “the tens of thousands each year”. It says this policy is impossible to fulfil, aggravates distrust in the immigration system and makes it harder for businesses to employ the “brightest and the best”.

In a bid to identify how non-EU migration can be better managed, CentreForum undertook research with business, trade associations and unions. Set out in the report are a number of ideas for cutting red tape, promoting jobs, exports and growth, and making the immigration system more customer friendly.

However, one of the main complaints respondents raised, according to the report, was the “permanent revolution” in immigration policy. The report therefore urges a moratorium on immigration changes, at least until after the 2015 election, so that the system can bed down and businesses can get used to current rules.

In addition, the report pushes for changes in the way immigration statistics are gathered to get a clearer picture of arrivals and departures.

It argues that students and migrants on intra company transfers, who are not seeking indefinite leave to remain in the UK, should be removed from the figures.

“The government’s immigration policy is at odds with its ambition to grow the economy, create jobs and shrink the deficit,” said Tom Papworth of Centreforum. “It needs to focus on quality, rather than quantity.”

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