In June the Home Secretary commissioned the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) to advise on the level at which limits on tier 1 and tier 2 of the points based system (PBS) should be set for their first year of operation in 2011/2012 in order to contribute to achieving the Government's aim of reducing net migration to an annual level of 'tens of thousands' by the end of this Parliament.

The MAC received over 400 written submissions, including from this firm, and has today published a 324 page report which can be found by clicking here.

In the report the MAC comments that the number of migrant workers coming to the UK from outside the EU should be cut by between 13% and 25% next year. Such cuts however will only contribute 20% to the Government's target of reducing UK immigration to 'tens of thousands' and therefore the Committee has warned that the other 80% will have to come from student and family migration. This will cause further alarm to the education sector which has already warned that the current immigration policy is causing considerable harm to the UK's ability to attract genuine students who make a significant contribution to the economy.

The MAC report also states:

  • all things being equal, tier 1 and tier 2 migration clearly has a positive impact on Gross Domestic Product (GDP);
  • there is no evidence, at the aggregate level, of adverse labour market impacts. Tier 1 and tier 2 migrants, in the short term at least and on average, almost certainly make a positive net fiscal contribution;
  • we have not found clear evidence that tier 1 and tier 2 migrants have either a strong or negative net effect on social cohesion in the UK as a whole.

The Committee has said that the number of visas issued under tier 1 and tier 2 need to be between 37,400 and 43,700 for 2011/12 and that this would represent a cut of between 6,300 and 12,600 visas compared with 2009. It also said that tier 2 visas should be prioritised over tier 1 visas. In addition the MAC has advised the Government that both tiers 1 and 2 should be more selective and the Government should raise the threshold for earnings and qualifications.

We recommend that the MAC's report should be read in conjunction with the findings of the Home Affairs Committee which can be found by clicking here.

In its report the Committee argued that there are 'serious and widespread concerns that the proposed cap will hamper businesses, prevent top-class international professionals from coming to the UK and damage the UK’s ability to recruit the most distinguished scientists into universities and highly talented individuals into UK companies and public services'.