‘Not the Brexit I wanted’: next boss calls for more foreign workers in UK | Supply chain crisis

Simon Wolfson, the chief executive of clothing and homewares retailer Next, urged the government to make it easier for foreign workers to enter the UK and said it was “not the Brexit I wanted”.

The Tory peer and Brexit supporter said the government was preventing essential workers from entering the UK, even though businesses were in desperate need of labour.

“We have people lining up to come to this country to pick crops that are rotting in the fields, to work in warehouses that otherwise would not be usable, and we are not letting them in,” Lord Wolfson said in an interview with the BBC.

“As far as immigration is concerned, this is certainly not the Brexit that I wanted, or even that many who voted for Brexit wanted,” he added.

Wolfson said there was always value in incentivizing companies to hire local workers in the UK, and said this could be achieved by ensuring companies pay a 10% tax to the government on foreign labor wages.

“That would automatically mean companies would never have bought someone from outside into the business if they could find someone in the UK,” he said. “But if they really can’t, they’ll pay the premium.

Businesses across the UK are struggling to find staff, in part because of Brexit restrictions which meant EU citizens were no longer allowed to work in the UK. It has affected hospitals, pubs, restaurants and logistics companies, and last year the government was forced to offer temporary visas to truckers and poultry farmers to help solve the resulting supply chain crisis.

Wolfson said most people in the UK had a “very pragmatic view” of immigration, and he urged the government to take a “different approach to economically productive migration”.

“Yes, control it, where it’s harmful to society, but let people in who can contribute to it,” said the Next said the general manager.

“We have to remember, you know, we’re all stuck in this Brexit argument. We have to remember that what Britain looks like after Brexit isn’t just for those who voted for Brexit. Brexit is up to all of us,” Wolfson said.

It came as the retail boss tried to calm fears over the length of the UK economic downturn, the Bank of England said last week. could last until mid-2024.

“Next year will be tough, but there’s no need for a national nervous breakdown,” Wolfson said, saying the The UK’s low unemployment rate – which fell to 3.5% in the three months to August – would help shield the UK from a deeper economic crisis. “While people will be in a rush, it’s highly unlikely that they won’t be able to find work,” he said.

The country would likely start to rebound by 2024, Wolfson added. “The interesting thing about a recession on the supply side is that the seeds of the correction are automatically certain. So as demand drops and factories start to empty, prices start to fall. »

In the meantime, Wolfson said, the government should focus its “very limited resources on those who need the most help during the next recession.” He said the last thing Prime Minister Rishi Sunak should do was provide financial support to households and businesses that did not need it.

That meant targeting aid at “people who are going to be cold and people who are going to be hungry, not businesses that want tax relief”, he said.

The government has been criticized for spending billions to cap the energy bills of every UK household and business, meaning the wealthiest families and businesses are getting help when they can’t. -be not needed.

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