Restrictions for Bulgarians and Romanians – accepted

The Government accepted our recommendations in full, says chairman of the Migration Advisory Committee 18 December 2008. The Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) today publishes its recommendations to the Government on the continuation of work restrictions for Bulgarians and Romanians (A2 nationals) in the UK.

For this report the MAC was asked by the Government to look at the options around removing, relaxing or retaining the current labour market restrictions for A2 workers. The MAC’s main recommendation is that the restrictions on employment of A2 workers should be retained. This was based on evidence and analysis around the economic and labour market impacts of the three potential options.

In addition, the MAC recommends a limited expansion of the Seasonal Agricultural Workers Scheme (SAWS) from 16,500 to 21,250 in 2009. This scheme allows A2 immigrants to come to the UK to work in agriculture for up to six months to fill the gap in the labour market.

The MAC also advises no increase in the quota for the current Sectors Based Scheme (SBS) for food processing, and against the setting up of new schemes for other sectors.

Chairman of the MAC, David Metcalf, said:
"I am delighted that the Government has chosen to accept our recommendations in full. In accepting our recommendations on A2 restrictions, as with the shortage occupation list, the Government has shown that it values the MAC’s independent, expert advice."

Mr Metcalf also explained that consideration of the current economic climate was central to the MAC’s recommendations:
"In this time of economic downturn it was sensible to make recommendations which would avoid any negative impacts on the current UK workforce. That is why we chose to advise that the current restrictions should stay in place, with only a modest increase in the number of temporary workers in agriculture."

The MAC has additionally suggested that the Government may wish to review the Resident Labour Market Test and the future of SAWS in the next 12-18 months. The Committee is comprised of six economists – the Chair, four appointed members, and an ex-officio member from the Commission for Employment and Skills – and a Government observer who is a policy official.

Migrants from Poland and the seven other Eastern European countries which joined the EU in 2004 will continue to be free to live and work in the UK.

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UK work restrictions continue for Bulgarians and Romanians