HomeInsightsUkie responds to the Government’s plans for the UK’s post-Brexit immigration system

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Ukie explains that the system announced by the Government last week features a points-based system and reduced salary thresholds. With the UK now having left the EU, EU and non-EU citizens will follow the same immigration route upon its implementation on the 1 January 2021.

Ukie notes that this signifies only the first phase of the changes to be made to the future immigration system, with the Home Office continuing to make refinements.

Ukie highlights the following:

  • reducing the minimum salary threshold from £30,000 to £25,600;
  • removing the resident labour market test;
  • removing the cap on the number of people who can enter through the skilled worker route;
  • a points-based system where prospective migrants will need to achieve 70 points overall to successfully attain a visa; and
  • mandatory points must be acquired on sufficient English language skills, a job offer, and a job at an appropriate skill level.

Ukie says that the Government’s emphasis on a high-skilled, high-productivity economy suits what the games industry already requires and offers, as the BFI’s 2018 Screen Business report reveals that games are shown to have the highest productivity jobs of all the screen sectors, meaning that each person employed gives more back to the economy than other screen sectors.

Ukie says that the games industry leads the way in using emerging technologies, but this requires highly-skilled talent that cannot always be fulfilled domestically. In addition, as an entertainment industry, the creative and cultural contribution of a diverse workforce cannot be overstated. It is unsurprising that, as a result, the industry is highly international with Ukie’s recent UK games Industry Census, demonstrating that 19% of workers in the sector are from the EEA and a further 9% from the rest of the world, significantly above the national average.

The skills needed in games, technology and other future-facing sectors are in high demand, and the UK is constantly competing internationally to attract the best talent around the globe. With EEA workers joining the rest of the world in visa routes from 2021, it is vital that a future immigration system allows the UK games sector to attract the brightest talent it needs to continue to be a world leader in interactive entertainment.

Ukie says that the reduction in salary threshold, as recommended by Ukie, will be beneficial for the games industry, particularly as the sector is well distributed across the UK. The removal of other barriers, such as the resident labour market test and the cap on the number of people who can enter via the skilled worker route, is all “positive news”.

The planned points-based system is not too dissimilar from what exists currently in that mandatory characteristics must still be met. Providing the opportunity for people who may not reach the salary threshold to still get a visa by meeting some other characteristics is “a welcome move”.

Ukie says that a forward-facing immigration system that needs to foster innovation “must also recognise the need for fluidity in employment”. The mandatory requirement for a firm job offer as well as a requirement to speak English could be detrimental to careers of the future, Ukie says. Allowing the best talent around the world to access the UK’s labour market as seamlessly as possible is essential to the strength of the sector.

Ukie notes that introducing a new immigration system will inevitably cause a burden to businesses in comparison to free movement. Given that 99.5% of games companies in the UK are SMEs this extra burden may yet prove to put the UK at a disadvantage.

Ukie hopes that “further refinements” made to the proposed system will help games companies to attract and keep the people it needs to ensure that the UK is firmly on track to be the best place in the world to make, sell, and play games. To read Ukie’s response in full, click here.