UK’s financial sector has urged the government to relax visa rules for workers from abroad who want to work in Britain for up to six months to help the country maintain international competitiveness.
According to a new report by industry experts TheCityUK, City of London Corporation and EY, a “hybrid” short-term visa would allow workers to come without the bureaucracy involved in a typical visa process.
“Without it, we will not be able to innovate in key growth areas like fintech or green finance, nor build out our international trading networks,” Miles Celic, TheCityUK CEO, told Reuters.
Talent from abroad
The report found that 42 per cent of fintech workers, who are key to growth in the industry, are international.
And across all UK financial services, almost 20 per cent of the workforce is from abroad.
But since January this year, when new immigration rules came into force post-Brexit, companies are facing rising costs to be able to employ talent which will keep Britain relevant in global finance.
It comes as various UK industries such as hospitality, meat and haulage have been urging the government to bring in workers from abroad to stop food and fuel shortages from worsening.
Temporary visas for lorry drivers and poultry workers
The government announced last weekend it would allow 5,000 lorry drivers and 5,500 poultry workers to come to the UK on short-term, temporary visas.
And it has sent letters to around one million drivers in the UK whom they deemed eligible to become or return to being lorry drivers.
But recipients included ambulance drivers, paramedics and motorhome owners, as well as German citizens who obtained their driving licences before 1999 and are entitled to drive small to medium-sized trucks of up to 7.5 tonnes.
Peter Brissenden, from Kent, told The London Economic he took his HGV driving test three years ago just to be able to drive a motorhome, and thinks being invited to work as a lorry driver shows a “scattergun approach” by a “desperate government”.
He said: “The letter I’ve been sent shows a complete scattergun approach by a government who are desperate to try and sort out a problem that’s completely of their own creation.
“Some of it is due to Covid, but obviously the vast majority, the reason why we’ve not got any foreign drivers in the UK, is because a lot of them went home post-Brexit.”
EU lorry drivers say ‘no’
Earlier this week, EU lorry drivers rejected calls for them to come and work in the UK in a damning Facebook post.
Commenting in a group called ‘Koleka Problem’, George Mihulecea from Bucharest, Romania, said “most of the drivers left because of work condition reasons” and that it is not “worth it anymore” to come to the UK.
He added: “I wish them luck. They think drivers are waiting at the border to be employed in UK.
“Drivers shortage is just the beginning, the warehouse operators will be the next to leave.”
Vytautas Bielskis from Breda in the Netherlands said there is “no chance” he would come work under the post-Brexit visa rules proposed by the UK government.
Showing a middle finger emoji at the temporary Tory proposals, Marius Blekaitis said: “Boris is hoping that 5,000 drivers will work overtime.”
Blekaitis said this would mean helping the UK with Boris Johnson’s “‘best deal ever’ shit” and then be told to get out of Britain “again”.