Points-based visa system may damage London’s openness and diversity: Business leaders

Business leaders urge to launch coordinated campaign on immigration
Eight companies move headquarters from London since 2007, three come in


16th October 2009:
Business leaders have urged London mayor Boris Johnson exert a pull on Asian companies to set up European headquarters in London for replacing US and British companies that have left. He has also been urged to launch a campaign against restrictive immigration rules to safeguard the city’s status as a leading global business centre.
The campaign would aim at ensuring applicability of the rules in a way that did not damage London’s interests. One option could be a set charge for appeals. This was expected to encourage only those with strong grounds to challenge the outcome of applications.
Johnson has further been asked to establish a small London competitiveness unit to strengthen his lobbying capability, with one of its priorities to launch a coordinated campaign on immigration.
The recommendations have been made in a report expected to be presented during the annual meeting of Johnson’s international business advisory council. It is scheduled to take place at City Hall; and is in response to the mayor’s call for a review of London’s competitiveness.
The recommendations follow interviewed with more than 50 business leaders by consultants Booz & Co. The leaders interviewed were of the opinion that certain measures were compelling individuals, as well as companies to consider departure from London. These included planned 50p top tax rate and the £30,000 levy on non-domiciled residents
The report says the business leaders, along with foreign community representatives, expressed widespread concern over the government’s points-based visa system, which they feared would damage London’s openness and diversity.
The report says eight companies have moved their headquarters from London since 2007, mainly for tax reasons: Yahoo, WPP, Kraft, Rolls-Royce Marine, Suntech, NYK, Regus and McDonald’s. They went to places like Geneva and Dublin. Just three companies, Canon Europe, Vodafone and Lowe, came to London.
Over the next 15 years, up to 3,200 companies from China, Taiwan, South Korea and India may consider moving to Europe, the report predicts.


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