UK Music CEO slams Home Office’s “crude” and “clueless” immigration blueprint

New proposals threaten to “pull the rug from under Britain’s world-leading music industry"

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19/12/2018: UK Music today urged the Government to listen to music industry concerns over new proposals to limit immigration.

Responding to the publication today of the long-awaited White Paper setting out new post-Brexit rules for migrants, CEO Michael Dugher warned the Government not to jeopardise the UK’s world-leading music industry.

The Government announced a consultation on the Migration Advisory Committee’s recommendation for there to be a minimum salary requirement of £30,000 for skilled migrants seeking five-year visas.

Aside from a conditional transitional phase, the White Paper does not recommend a specific route for low skilled workers. With the exception of agricultural workers, sectoral labour schemes have been ruled out.

The White Paper sets out proposed new laws before they are formalised in draft legislation in the form of a government bill.

UK Music has long argued the UK’s future immigration system will have a profound impact on the possibility of achieving a reciprocal agreement with the EU in the interests of music.

Requiring musicians, songwriters and producers from the EU to earn salaries of at least £30,000 to work in the UK poses a major threat to the music industry where music creators earn on average £20,504 – way below the average for other jobs.

If the approach of the White Paper is agreed, then the UK’s cultural industries may suffer retaliation from EU member states. This could mean extra costs and red tape for artists who need to cross borders for their work.

UK Music has long called for Brexit negotiations to agree the introduction of a “touring passport” or visa waiver that supports temporary short-term permissions and exemptions for musicians and crews.  It would apply both to those coming to the UK and those performing in the EU in order to achieve a reciprocal arrangement.

Commenting, UK Music CEO Michael Dugher said:
“The UK music industry contributes £4.5bn to the economy, with live music alone contributing around £1bn.

“As we’ve made repeatedly clear, a crude salaries and skills approach to freedom to work post-Brexit just doesn’t work for so many artists and musicians.

“We risk limiting the ability for European musicians to play in our world-leading festivals, venues and studios.

“If this approach is reciprocated by the EU and there is no visa waiver in place, we risk making it very hard, if not impossible, for so many UK artists to tour in EU.

“This is how they build an audience and frankly make any kind of living from music.

“It is frustrating in the extreme that there are still some people in government who have their fingers in their ears. This is utterly clueless. It’s vital that we don’t pull the rug from under Britain’s world-leading music industry.”

The Government’s Immigration White Paper indicates a desire to ensure the UK system continues to support cultural life and that there are unlikely to be any substantial changes to the existing processes for performers coming to the U.K. from outside the EU.

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