The government is seriously considering imposing a £1,000-a-year levy on every European Union skilled worker recruited by British employers after Brexit.
Home Office minister Robert Goodwill told peers that the “immigration skills levy” could be introduced for EU migrants and would “be helpful to British workers who feel they are overlooked” in favour of migrants.
He went on: “I don’t think many people are aware that in April of this year we are bringing for non-EU workers coming into the UK an immigration skills charge.
“So if one wishes to bring in an Indian computer programmer on a four year contract on top of the existing visa charge there will be a fee of £1,000 per year. So for a four year contract that employer will need to pay £4,000.
“That’s something that currently applies to non-EU. That may be something that’s been suggested to us that could apply to EU. ”
The move would put the Government on a collision course with business leaders, who have already warned that applying the policy to non-EU migrants could damage growth.
Speaking to the EU Lords’ Home Affairs sub-committee, Mr Goodwill added that the Government was looking at what “incentives” could be used to encourage more Brits to take up low-skilled jobs.
Seamus Nevin, head of employment and skills policy at the Institute of Directors, said employers accept that immigration policy will be changing but warned charging £1,000 for each EU worker would hit businesses dependent on skills from abroad. He added: "The UK needs these companies to do well if we are to make a success of Brexit".
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