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Tory immigration proposals offer “little comfort” to VFX industry

UK Screen Alliance criticises Boris Johnson's "small amount of additional information"

Boris Johnson’s post-Brexit immigration proposals offer “little comfort” to the UK visual effects (VFX) industry, according to the UK Screen Alliance.

The organisation argued that the Prime Minister’s “small amount of additional information” did nothing to allay the fears of businesses concerned with recruiting international skilled workers required to compete in a global market.

The UK Screen Alliance said in a statement: “As the overall economy stalls, it was the impressive growth of the motion picture industry which almost single-handedly kept the UK out of recession in the last fiscal quarter.

“The UK’s VFX industry is a key part of this sector, competing globally by providing computer-generated imagery for Oscar-winning Hollywood feature films and on-demand box-set dramas. It creates over £1 billion of value for the UK economy each year.”

The statement noted the global shortage of VFX talent, with one-third of the UK’s VFX workforce coming from Europe and a further 13 per cent from non-EEA countries.

The organisation has estimated that applying the current visa for non-EEA migrant workers to EEA workers after Brexit would cost the UK’s VFX industry an additional £20 million per year.

“The UK’s visa system is already one of the most expensive in the world and under the Conservative manifesto proposals is set to get even more expensive,” said UK Screen Alliance CEO Neil Hatton. “This is a major disincentive and must be reduced if the UK is to continue to be a magnet for international talent. It is not a system based on the skills needs of the UK, it is a system based on the ability of an employer to afford the visa.”

“The largest players in VFX already have a global footprint with operations in multiple counties,” he added. “There is evidence that they are prioritising investment into territories other than the UK, while the cost of bringing the world’s best talent to the UK remain uncertain. We urgently need clarity that the future immigration system will be affordable and not restrict our access to international talent so that this high-tech, high-prestige and high-productivity industry can continue to thrive in the UK.”