The UK Screen Alliance has criticised the government’s Immigration Bill, which sets out plans for a post-Brexit visa system.
UK Screen Alliance says the Bill’s proposed visa system will “severely limit” the VFX and animation industries’ access to the international talent. It also says that expensive new EU visas will add significantly to operating costs and impact on the sector’s competitiveness in the global market.
However, UK Screen Alliance welcomed the government’s decision to put out to consultation a Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) recommendation from earlier this year which proposed no change in the minimum salary threshold of £30,000 for Tier 2 visas.
The Government intends to implement a single visa scheme for both EU and non-EU immigration based on the Tier 2 visa regime that currently exists for non-EU immigration.
The UK Screen Alliance says setting the minimum salary threshold at £30,000 would severely restrict the flow of new talent from Europe. Its own research shows that 7% of the combined animation and VFX workforce are from the EU and are remunerated below £30,000.
Chief executive of the UK Screen Alliance, Neil Hatton, said: “Salaries are a very poor indicator of skill levels. The remuneration levels in the creative industries in general are lower than say the financial services sector. A blunt instrument like Tier 2 does not account for these sectoral differences and to apply it to all migration will greatly disadvantage VFX and animation in securing the fresh high potential talent from the EU necessary to deliver continued growth. We welcome the Government’s decision to let employers have their say on what would be a disastrous policy.”
Hatton said that the inflation necessary to remunerate roles at the current £30k Tier 2 threshold would add £2.5m to the collective payroll costs of the VFX industry. He added: “Then there would also need to be an adjustment to salaries of UK citizens in these same roles to maintain parity and adjustments to job grades above to maintain differentials. Overall this could add 3% to 5% to overheads and seriously damage competitiveness.”
The Government also proposes levying the Immigration Skill Charge onto EU visas. This charge, which is already applied to non-EU Tier 2 visas, is £1,000 per year. Meanwhile, the Immigration Health Surcharge is set to increase to £400 per year.
UK Screen Alliance estimates that, in worst-case scenario, visa application costs for EU citizens would add a further £2.3m to workforce overheads.
Fiona Walkenshaw, global managing director of film of Framestore said: “The potential cost is horrific. It will have a major impact on competitiveness across our industry, as we collectively hire the best graduates in Europe. Now other member states will build clusters and dilute the UK’s global centre of excellence.“
Phil Dobree, managing director of Jellyfish, said: “Jellyfish Pictures’ staff is made up of 40% EU nationals, which is typical for our industry. For the UK to remain globally competitive in an industry such as visual effects and animation, we need quick, easy access to the very best talent internationally without financial penalties.”
This story first appeared on Screen’s sister site Broadcast.