Intra-company transfers come under fire

An IT contractors’ lobby group is calling for major reform of the intra-company transfer (ICT) system and is presenting evidence of abuse to the Migration Advisory Committee.

The committee, which provides independent evidence-based advice on immigration workers and permits, is due to produce a report later this month on the scale of ICTs, especially in the IT sector.

George Anastasi, a spokesman for the Professional Contractors’ Group (PCG), said it believes there are “about 30,000″ IT workers, mainly from India, who have entered the UK on ICT permits.

The PCG said overseas staff working in the UK via ICT permits “are displacing UK contractors”.

PCG managing director John Brazier said: “It is essential that the ICT system is reformed. It is ludicrous that no requirement exists for firms to first exploit the existing pool of UK labour before engaging migrant workers.

“In a recession with many talented experienced IT contractors out of work, it is clear the system is not meeting the needs of the wider economy, and is instead causing the displacement of hard-working contractors.”

The PCG is about to set up a website where members and others can report details of suspected abuse of the ICT system.

The PCG wants to see market tests applied before ICTs are allowed. The work permit regime requires the sponsor firm to prove that a UK worker cannot be found to fill the post in question – there is no such requirement for an ICT. However, the UK employer must hold a sponsor’s licence and the individual being sponsored must make an application for entry to the UK under tier 2 of the points-based system.

Meanwhile, reports in the Daily Mail said that Lloyds Banking group is bringing in hundreds of Indian IT staff to replace UK IT contractors.

But a Lloyds spokesman said the Indian IT personnel came to the UK as a result of contracts it has with overseas suppliers, especially in India, through outsourcing contracts. He said the staff concerned were employees of the suppliers.

He also dismissed reports that Indian IT staff aren’t up to the job. “We monitor all of our projects and keep a close eye on quality and delivery,” said the spokesman.

Lloyds also said it will cut IT contractor rates by 15% from 18 July. It said: “In recent months the market rates for IT contractors have decreased. A number of our competitors have taken similar measures recently.”

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