Published on 23 Nov 2010

Immigration cap: how the numbers might add up

Intra-company transfers have been painted as a way of allowing multi-nationals to get their top flight people into the country. But take a look at this chart from last week’s report by the Migration Advisory Committee (p. 96) and you see the salary spread of folk who have come in under intra-company transfers.

Putting my ruler up against the graph it looks like about 50 per cent of people currently coming in on this route earn under £40,000. So if a £40,000 salary floor is introduced, and given that 22,000 came in under this route in 2009, you can see how you have potentially brought down numbers by 11,000 by bringing in the floor.

Business doesn’t want this group artificially capped but if the government thinks the salary threshold does the work for them you can see how it gives the government scope to bring in a cap (exclusive of intra-company transfers) of around 30,000. Add on the 11,000 intra company transfers the government thinks you will probably end up with under uncapped intra-company transfers and you get to a figure a bit above 40,000 net migration (under non-EU work permits) which is where we look like ending up in policy.

The government will have to squeeze other cohorts of immigration harder than that to get where it wants to get – bringing net immigration down from 196,000 in 2009 to around 50,000 in 2014 (“tens of thousands” was the official line in the Tories’ election campaign). That means a lot of work will be started on getting down net student immigration from 163,000 pa (2009) and family related net immigration down from 54,000 (2009).

The latter is particularly sensitive. The former is not without difficulties either. I can’t find a trade association figure for language school turnover but you can find any number of ministerial quotes over the years, from all parties, that boast how critical the English language is to Britain’s role in the world.

So, the cap turns out to be 21,700 – add the notional 11,000 that would represent half of intra-company transfers (my estimate from the graph not the government’s) takes you to 31,7000, a notional cut of more than 20,000. Still leaving the government a lot of work to do elsewhere.

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5 reader comments

  1. John James says:

    Your analysis is flawed. It doesnt consider the thousands of people who can still use ICT to come to the UK for a year provided they earn more than £25k. There won’t be much change to the overall numbers of people entering the UK, using resources etc. Those who come via the ICT can be paid in tax free allowances and contribute a tiny amount of tax. Its a pointless exercise.

  2. John James says:
  3. TGR Worzel says:

    Hmmm. If the Banks are a good example of how the “top people” at big corporations have no common sense, cannot distinguish right from wrong, or prudent from risky, or sensible from reckless, I think we actually need to encourage the big corporations to keep their “top people” out of the country…

  4. Philip Edwards says:


    Here’s a safe bet:

    Whichever way you do the forecast calculation, whichever way it is actually applied……it will result in less black people entering this country.

    Most Western nations are deeply and institutionally racist in their societies. The worst are those who were at the centre of the Slave Trade, particularly the Americans and the British. This is why the roots run so deep and are so difficult to dig up.

    The so-called “immigration problem” is actually a diluted form of apartheid. Where Britain is concerned it is exacerbated by the typical insularity of an island nation. For an example of which, see the instigation and motivation for the Aliens Act at the beginning of the last century.

  5. Andrew Dundas says:

    Immigration – net or otherwise – can’t be measured without identity cards issued to everyone.
    We can’t know how many people have come in or out without them.
    Tories want to rely on local government estimates. But they also know that those aren’t reliable because LAs get grants linked to their own estimates. Which is also why we need regular censae – otherwise we’ll never be able to refute the allegations that our population is ‘being swamped’ when facts would show otherwise

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