Overseas workers only way to solve shortages, says Next boss

NEXT chief executive Lord Wolfson has said labour shortages could be solved by companies hiring overseas workers and paying a “visa tax” reports the BBC.

Staff were not available in the places needed and seasonal workers were difficult to recruit, he told the BBC’s Today programme.

Next has warned warehouse and logistics staffing is under pressure.

The comments are the latest in exchanges between the pro-Brexit Tory peer and Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

Mr Johnson said Lord Wolfson “doesn’t want any kind of control or restraint on the number of people that he can access from abroad to run his business”.

But in response, Lord Wolfson said this was “absolutely not” the case.

Lord Wolfson suggested businesses could get visas for skills they “desperately need” and recommended that they should have to pay UK workers the same amount as overseas workers. To make this competitive, he argued businesses should have to pay a “visa tax on top – lets say 7% of wages”.

“We need to design a system that delivers the skills but at the same time makes sure UK workers are not deprived of opportunities that they might want,” he said.

He added that this solution would “ensure people are not being brought into the UK to undercut UK workers because they will always be more expensive and it provides the skills Britain desperately needs to keep its industry moving”.

He suggested that only UK businesses should be able to apply for these visas, rather than workers, and that it should not cost the employers more than recruiting in the UK.

The retail chain currently pays store sales consultants and stock assistants between £6.55 to £9.21 an hour and warehouse operatives between £9.30 and £11.26 an hour.

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