PwC report examines UK regional visas

Julia Onslow-Cole

Consultants PwC have produced a report, commissioned by The City of London Corporation, which examines the possibility of creating a “regional visa” for non UK nationals if the UK leaves the EU.

“Our objective is to spark public debate on the possibility of allowing regional decision makers to assess and address local immigration needs, as part of a wider consideration of the UK’s future education and skills requirements,” said a joint statement from Mark Boleat, chairman of the corporation’s policy and resources committee, and PwC’s head of global immigration Julia Onslow-Cole.

“As the challenges and opportunities of Brexit are worked through, such an approach could boost the economy overall and increase the integration of migrants in their local community.”

The report said a regional visa could present an opportunity for the UK to have a “nuanced immigration” system that meets the requirements of UK business and economy post-Brexit.

It said a regional visa system could facilitate and promote economic development outside of London.

Such a regional visa is an opportunity for the best placed people within the regions to make decisions that impact the day to day position of individuals within that community, the report said.

It said Australia and Canada offered the most relevant comparisons for a UK regional visa.

Both Australia and Canada designed their systems to attract migrants to help combat problems of sparsely populated regions and declining populations, the report said.

In conclusion, the report said: “In a post Brexit world, business may be faced with greater challenges to meet their workforce needs and ensure their business remains competitive and thrives.

“The regional visa would require time, energy and additional costs at the outset from business, however where there is a genuine skills deficit the advantage would be the ongoing viability and success of the business and the regions they are in.

“Regions would require the necessary funding, training and subsequent governance structures for the regional visa to become a viable option.”