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Gloucestershire Business News

Immigration: today's rise kindles business debate

At 606,000, the net immigration figure for 2022 released by the ONS this morning was lower than some quarters expected but still marked a new record. For the 12 months to June 2022, the total stands at 504,000.

And despite Prime Minister Rishi Sunak's promise to eradicate much of the asylum backlog this year, the number waiting for an initial decision is up to 172,758, from 166,261, while the total waiting more than six months has increased by 10,000 to 128,812.

In an urgent question to the commons, shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper said: "These extraordinary figures, including doubling the number of work visas since the pandemic, show the Conservatives have no plan and no grip on immigration. Ministers have completely failed to tackle skills shortages, especially in health and social care, or to get people back into work after Covid."

She added: "Net migration should come down and we expect it to do so. Support we have rightly given to Ukrainians and Hong Kongers has unusually affected the figures this year. But that can't disguise the fact that the Conservatives' chaotic approach means that work visas are up 119 per cent, net migration is more than twice the level ministers were aiming for, and the asylum backlog is at a record high despite Rishi Sunak promising to clear it this year."

Labour's solution, said Ms Cooper, is to "put skills and fairness at the heart of the immigration system - tackling skills shortages and ending the unfair wage discount so employers recruiting from overseas have to pay the going rate."

She added: "Immigration makes an important contribution to Britain so it needs to be properly managed and controlled so the system is fair."

But anticipating today's figures on BBC Radio 4 Today, Sir John Hayes, who chairs the Common Sense group of rightwing Tory MPs (and who is an ally of the home secretary Suella Braverman), said: "You can't grow your population at 700,000 a year - where on earth are you going to house these people? We build about 180,000 new homes a year."

He added: "You just can't grow the population at that pace. The pressure it places on public services and housing ... The whole government needs to work together to deal with unprecedented population growth, which just is not sustainable." says: "Today's figures are data we need to objectively and calmly assess. They come at a time when Gloucestershire's business sector is being held back by recruitment issues, specifically in terms of finding the right people . The issue is across every sector from engineering to agriculture and pharmaceutical, it looks like we haven't trained enough people in the right areas, and immigration, when managed intelligently, can offer a solution to many of our pressing business needs."

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