MAC releases recommendations for future immigration systems

On Tuesday (28 January) Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) released their recommendations for future immigration systems in the UK.

Amongst several recommendations, including not implementing a full points-based immigration system, the Committee has recommended the salary threshold for skilled migrants entering the UK after Brexit should be reduced by £4,400 to £25,600. While this is a welcome first step, the salary threshold will continue to exclude a large proportion of the music profession. The Committee’s proposals also cite creative occupations as being amongst the ‘priority occupations’, along with health workers and scientists, a positive development towards protecting the prosperous music industry post-Brexit.

In its report, the Committee made various references to musicians including:

'...[Meanwhile], it was also noted by stakeholders that following a sustained period of public spending cuts, orchestral salaries have flatlined, meaning that the pay of permanent orchestral musicians may well not meet salary thresholds in future, including for settlement, and musicians from EEA and non-EEA countries may need to leave the UK, and lose their employment, after five years.' (page 75)

'The £30,000 level was felt to be too high for certain sectors where respondents said employees were highly skilled but not highly paid (for example musicians, chefs), or where salaries as a whole were kept low (for example charities, heritage).' (page 93)

'Those who worked in part-time roles – reported as being more likely to be women, but also those, such as musicians, in roles for which part-time employment was normal practice – were less likely to be able to meet the minimum [salary threshold].' (page 102)

'Many stakeholders made the case that their sectors have high public value not reflected in the salaries paid. Specific examples highlighted during engagement include the care sector, where social workers and carers have been mentioned as occupations with particular value to society, and the health sector, where in addition to doctors and nurses there are other roles such as pharmacists, physiotherapists, and other allied health professionals, who ‘contribute important expertise to our society’. The wider value of creativity and culture, and the role of musicians, was highlighted as adding value to society separate from economic returns.' (page 140)

Deborah Annetts, Chief Executive of the Incorporated Society of Musicians said:

'The proposals published by the Migration Advisory Committee are a step in the right direction for the future of the UK immigration system. We are grateful to the Committee for recognising the unique nature of the music profession and its contribution to our society. We are encouraged that the Committee cited creative occupations as a ‘priority occupation’ in their recommendations.

Music knows no borders. It is vital that any immigration system supports the music industry and does not act as a barrier to collaboration. Although highly skilled, musicians are not highly paid workers, and on average earn less than £20,000 per year. Therefore, we urge that the Committee adopts the ISM’s proposals for a creative exception to the salary threshold to be put in place. This is the best way to protect our creative industries, which are worth £101.5bn, in an ever-changing world.

About the ISM

The Incorporated Society of Musicians (ISM) is the UK's professional body for musicians and a nationally recognised subject association for music. Since 1882, we have been dedicated to promoting the importance of music and protecting the rights of those working in the music profession. We support approximately 10,000 musicians across the UK and Ireland with our unrivalled legal advice and representation, comprehensive insurance and specialist services. Our members come from all areas of the music profession and from a wide variety of genres and musical backgrounds. We campaign tirelessly in support of musicians’ rights, music education and the profession as a whole. We are a financially independent not-for-profit organisation with no political affiliation. This independence allows us the freedom to campaign on any issue affecting musicians.

For more information, please contact [email protected].