Commenting on the ministerial response to the Migration Advisory Committee’s Tier 2 review, Keith Bryan, CEO of the Black Country Chamber of Commerce, said: “We are very disappointed that the government has accepted the recommendation to introduce the Immigration Skills Charge, and other measures from the Migration Advisory Committee. These measures are bad news for business and will damage the UK’s reputation as a global business hub."

"Businesses are reporting severe recruitment difficulties, especially for highly-skilled and specialised positions, and it makes no sense to apply new charges on firms that need to recruit from overseas – often because they are left with little alternative due to the skills gaps here at home. The government must now consider how the Surcharge interacts with other policies, particularly as businesses face so many upfront costs already, such as the apprenticeship levy, pension auto-enrolment, and the national living wage.

The EEF has reported that firms are looking to overcome their skills challenges by offering a number of incentives to attract and retain highly-skilled employees. The situation would be even worse if our business leaders had not been able to recruit from abroad.

Our own Black Country Business Indicator shows that 82% of Black Country manufacturers either grew their workforce over the last three months or it remained constant. 55% have reported that they are recruiting with the same percentage saying that they are having problems – nearly half in recruiting skilled people and nearly a quarter in recruiting professional and managerial employees. With 90% of our manufacturers telling us that investment in training had either gone up or had remained constant, businesses are expressing considerable concern.

Unfortunately the Migration Advisory Committee’s Tier 2 review has resulted in another burden for business and comes hard on the heels of a budget supposedly aiming to reduce the taxation demands on businesses. Every one of our manufacturers would like to recruit locally but in the absence of skilled people, our businesses want to be able to source talent from anywhere in the world.”