Labour Shortages

The Government’s Migration Advisory Committee wants to increase the number of jobs on the list aimed at plugging gaps in the UK labour market. Jobs on the Shortage Occupation List are effectively allowed to jump the queue for workers from outside the European Economic Area. Their review said there should be a big expansion of jobs on the list. Under these proposals, the list would cover 9% of jobs in the labour market, compared with approximately 1% currently.

What the government fails to realise is that the economy is over-heating. The alarm bells of inflation no longer ring because open borders mean that the labour market never tightens. The system introduced by Ken Clarke and Gordon Brown whereby the Bank of England can set interest rates to apply the brakes when this happens no longer works. Thus it has become a self-fulfilling prophesy that we are always going to be ‘short’ of labour and key skills however many people we let in.

It is perfectly possible for any government to achieve full employment (strictly speaking that level of employment before inflation takes off) with the right combination of fiscal, monetary and exchange-rate policy. Currently the economy is booming because of the devaluation that followed the referendum and the authorisation of a further £70bn of Quantitative Easing later in 2016. It is quite possible this was a misjudgement because they did not expect the boost from devaluation!

In fact immigrants do not ‘take our jobs’ as the government can simply increase consumer demand in this way to accommodate any level of population, though it may not seem that way during a recession. If immigration were restricted then conversely the level of consumer demand could be set to match that lower level of population and you would still have full employment.

There are many reasons why we do not want net immigration to this country which I am sure I do not need to rehearse. Personally I would prefer a Quota and Auction system to Nigel’s Australian points-based system, some loose version of which we now seem to have, because it would create a far less bureaucratic and more open competitive market for the skills we need as well as giving much more direct control over the actual numbers involved.

Employers wanting to import labour, and others wanting to come under their own steam, would have to buy a place in a monthly quota, which we can gradually tighten until they realise it would be cheaper to train up and employ British staff. We also need urgent reform of the welfare system to remove the poverty trap and reverse the sadistic implementation of Universal Credits this government is fixated about and which is having completely the opposite effect. I want to see self-assessment for benefits. We have it for tax, so why not for benefits, with payment by return on submission of an online timesheet? As Nigel doesn’t seem to understand, there is more to Brexit than Brexit. It needs a whole raft of additional policies if we are to avoid a C&D (crash and disaster).


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