PROPOSALS to stop overseas workers from staying in the UK for more than a year if they earn less than £30,000 would cause business serious difficulties, it has been claimed.

The Migration Advisory Committee, which makes proposals to government, has suggested the salary threshold as part of a post-Brexit visa system.

But a study published today by the CBI says the idea, which has been put out for consultation, would exacerbate recruitment problems for businesses.

It points out that in the south west, 70 per cent of workers earn less than £30,000. The average wage is £22,223, compared with a UK median of £24,006.

Deborah Fraser, CBI South West regional director, said: “We know that South West businesses are creating jobs but many are already struggling to fill vacancies and suffering from skills shortages.

“Continued access to overseas workers after Brexit is vital to drive growth, innovation and prosperity in the South West. The government’s current proposals risk causing significant harm at a time of uncertainty for business.“A one-year limit on workers earning less than £30,000 would encourage firms to hire a different person each year, needlessly increasing costs and discouraging migrants from integrating into communities.

“Leaving the EU should be an opportunity to develop an independent immigration policy that works for business by being both open to allow our economy to grow and controlled to restore public confidence.”

A host of local businesses have voiced concerns about recruitment post-Brexit.

Kevin Gunputh, chair of Dorset Care Homes Association and managing director of LuxuryCare, said around 34 per cent of his staff are from overseas.

“I think the one-year visa restriction creates more bureaucracy and also makes it less attractive for people who may want to come across to the UK,” he said.

“That burden is put on them before they come and while they’re in the UK.”

He said there were 110,000 vacancies in the UK’s care industry. “There is already a burden on the care worker positions and that will be further exacerbated – and let’s not forget about catering, hospitality, all those other industries that rely on workers at that level,” he added.

One of Poole’s biggest employers, the cosmetics brand Lush, relies heavily on staff from other EU countries. Its chief executive, Mark Constantine, said last year that some products for the UK market may have to be made in Croatia because of the difficulty in finding staff.

Mark Cribb, owner of the Urban Guild pub and restaurant group, has said finding staff is the hardest he has ever known it.

He told the Daily Echo recently: “We rely on quite a transient population who stay for the summer and disappear for the winter months, but a lot of those people look around Europe and say ‘Where am I going to earn the most money? We can go to Germany or France and earn more money than we earn here.’”

A Home Office spokesperson said: “We are confident the future immigration system will support businesses in the South West, for example, by removing the caps on the number of work visas, reducing the skills threshold, abolishing outdated labour market tests and bringing in a new digital sponsorship system to cut processing times.

“We are engaging with businesses on the £30,000 salary threshold but in any event, there is likely to be a lower rate for occupations that the Independent Migration Advisory Committee indicates are in shortage.

“Businesses should also be training up people living in the South West to fill their vacancies, but we recognise they need time to adjust to the new system. This is why there will be a temporary short-term workers route for employers to bring in workers at all skill levels for 12 months, subject to tightly defined conditions.”