Industry bodies have warned that new proposals to lower the minimum salary requirement for immigrants will still “lock out” many workers in the creative sector.
The recommendation was made in a report assessing what the UK’s immigration system could look like post-Brexit by the Migration Advisory Committee, which is an independent body that advises the government on immigration.
Currently, skilled workers from outside the EU need to have a job offer with a salary of at least £30,000 to work in the UK. EU citizens are not bound by such restrictions and do not need a permit to work in the UK due to freedom of movement.
Industry bodies previously warned that if the minimum salary requirement of £30,000 is also applied to EU citizens post-Brexit, this would lead to a shortage of skilled workers and “severely impact the ability of the UK theatre industry to produce the world-class work for which it is renowned”.
In the new report, the Migration Advisory Committee has recommended lowering the minimum salary threshold to £25,600 for all workers.
However, campaign body the Creative Industries Federation and entertainment union BECTU have warned that many skilled roles in the arts have salaries below this threshold.
The report follows a manifesto pledge from the Conservatives to introduce an Australian-style points-based system for immigration, which would take multiple factors into account for awarding visas, such as skills and language.
Caroline Julian, director of policy and programmes at the Creative Industries Federation, said: “Although the proposed reduction in the salary threshold is a step in the right direction, it is still above important skilled creative roles, such as arts festival producers (starting at £24,000), VFX artists (starting at £24,000), and company dancers (starting at £21,000).
“In the creative industries, high skill levels do not always equate to high salaries.”
Julian added that if the government is to introduce a points-based system for immigration, it is “vital” that this is “tailored to the creative industries, in all parts of the UK, rather than taking a one-size-fits-all approach”.
BECTU Brexit specialist Tony Lennon said: “We are still concerned that the proposed salary and qualification thresholds could lock out many EU workers in the creative sector once the points-based system is applied to them.
“We believe that there should be an open work visa system for the creative industries, as announced for the sciences earlier this week.”
The government is expected to release a white paper outlining their plans for immigration in the next three months.
A spokeswoman for the Home Office said: “We will deliver on the people’s priorities by introducing a points-based immigration system to attract the brightest and best talent from around the world, while reducing low-skilled migration and bringing overall numbers down.
“We would like to thank the Migration Advisory Committee for their report which we will carefully consider before setting out further detail on the UK’s future immigration system.”