The Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) recently published a hotly anticipated report commissioned in July 2017 by then Home Secretary Amber Rudd. The report was commissioned to provide a study and recommendations on the impacts of EEA immigration to support the design of a new immigration system post-Brexit.
The report outlines the impacts of immigration in areas such as the labour market, productivity and the community. The report’s findings have been hailed as “myth-busting” by the press, including its conclusion that migration has little or no impact on either employment levels or wages of UK workers. 1 Its principle recommendation is for a “less restrictive regime for higher-skilled workers than lower-skilled workers in a system where there is no preference for EEA over non-EEA workers”.2 The MAC also recommends abolishing the cap on high-skilled workers, describing it as “uncertain” for employers and making “little sense”.3
The MAC’s findings were presented to the Cabinet on 24 September 2018 by MAC chairman Professor Alan Manning. As a result, the Cabinet unanimously voted to support a system based on skills rather than nationality. However, the Cabinet’s vote represents only an agreement in principle. In his introduction to the report, Professor Manning stated that the report’s findings assume that UK would be “in a position where it is deciding the main features of its immigration policy”, with immigration not forming part of the negotiations between the EU and the UK. The reluctance of the Cabinet to provide a firm resolution to implement the findings set out in the Report recognises that the fate of EU migrants working in the UK is likely to depend on the wider Brexit deal.
The Financial Times observed that the report supported views previously expressed by Theresa May and Sajid Javid in relation to the benefits of high-skilled immigration versus low-skilled immigration. 4