WARNING THAT there is “no sensible route” for construction firms to access skilled labour from Europe following the introduction of the UK’s new immigration scheme, Hudson Contract is proposing a CIS-style solution.
A provider of tax status and employment contract services, Hudson has been consulting with the Home Office over the continued use of labour from the EU, EEA and Switzerland after the deadline for applying for settled status expired on 30 June.
Ian Anfield, managing director, said: “While construction activity has been hit by a shortage of skilled labour, there is no sensible route for construction firms to bring in self-employed tradespeople from the EU. They would need to become a sponsor, provide a guarantee of employment and take legal responsibility for the people they bring in. Construction is not set up to be able to do that.
“The government will say it has added lots of activities to the list of shortage occupations so if companies want to bring these workers in, they can do so. The issue is that construction firms don’t employ UK tradespeople so they would be even less likely to employ a European they have never met and be responsible for their compliance with visas. It is not practical and it is not going to happen.
“The government should consider a CIS-style arrangement for EU subbies to make higher rate deductions from payments and then refund the difference when they have fulfilled their contract and returned home. Similar schemes have been used in the past by Germany and Australia to address construction labour shortages. Self-employed subcontractors make up the most highly skilled and productive pool of resource in the industry. Britain needs them to deliver new housing and infrastructure. Most come from the UK but people from Europe are important too.”
Extensive studies by the Centre for Research on Self-Employment show legitimate freelancing is a major engine of growth and driver of the dominant business model used in the construction industry. The CRSE has warned that neglecting the importance of freelancers can lead to “inappropriate policy approaches”.
Earlier this summer, Hudson predicted the requirements of the new immigration regime will fuel the black market in ID documents by making it difficult for people without settled status to be able to work, use the NHS for free, enrol in education, access benefits or pensions and travel in and out of the UK.