Eminent economist advocates lenient immigration policies.

Former Bank of England chief economist, Andy Haldane, has said that it makes sense for businesses facing staff shortages to relax immigration rules. Speaking to the BBC, Haldane said that Britain “should be liberal in our society” and the skills gap could be filled by introducing a visa policy, leading to economic growth. The comments were made ahead of the announcement of net immigration figures due this Thursday. The prime minister has pledged to lower net immigration levels, but some businesses have warned of labour shortages, particularly in the hospitality and retail industries.

Haldane emphasised the importance of distinguishing between short-term and long-term workers and suggested that it made perfect sense to be generous to immigrants in the short-term in light of the huge shortages of staff and skills that businesses across all sectors and regions in the UK are facing. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has affirmed his commitment to closing the skills gap and being open to visa policies to enable economic growth. While immigration policy is under review, the government is committed to providing a competitive business environment.

Haldane also commented that the UK is still a long way from having a full-fledged industrial strategy and argued that the government needs to prioritise a clear plan for UK manufacturing, like many other countries around the world. Haldane warned of impending business losses and called for companies to plan ahead for possible events that might trip them up. A spokesperson for the Department of Trade highlighted the government’s clear strategy for UK manufacturing and its commitment to providing a competitive business environment. The government has pledged to invest millions of pounds in new government funds to spur growth, reduce paperwork, and improve productivity for small businesses in manufacturing.

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