The government has announced that it will reduce the limit on the number of skilled migrants permitted to work in the UK from next year, despite complaints from business bodies.

Home secretary Theresa May revealed that 21,700 employees will be granted residence in Britain in 2011 – a cut of 7,300, or 13 per cent – but insisted the action was necessary to stem the flow of newcomers into the country.

“These changes are crucial if we are to limit the numbers coming here to work while still attracting the brightest and the best,” she explained. “We have worked closely with businesses while designing this system.”

Ms May added that although the coalition has heeded the worries of employers, it is incumbent upon employers to give job opportunities to unemployed people already living in the UK as a priority.

Responding to the news, the British Chambers of Commerce welcomed plans to exempt some high earners from the restrictions.

Posted by Cameron Thomson