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UK's tough new rules on immigration could be 'parting gift' to help solve our housing crisis

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Climate : UK Home Secretary Priti Patel meets students and staff working on carbon capture at Imperial College London. Photo: Stefan Rousseau/PA

Climate : UK Home Secretary Priti Patel meets students and staff working on carbon capture at Imperial College London. Photo: Stefan Rousseau/PA

PA

Boon: Shane Dempsey said UK decision was good for Ireland

Boon: Shane Dempsey said UK decision was good for Ireland

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Climate : UK Home Secretary Priti Patel meets students and staff working on carbon capture at Imperial College London. Photo: Stefan Rousseau/PA

Tough new UK immigration rules could help solve Ireland's housing crisis as migrant workers are expected to flock here.

Britain is effectively banning unskilled overseas workers from entering the country after unveiling a strict new visa regime. It prioritises highly qualified staff like engineers and academics.

It is designed to stop employers relying on "cheap labour" from Europe and encourage them to look to the unemployed and automation to fill vacancies.

The new system, launched by Home Secretary Priti Patel, that gives workers scores based on their qualifications, English language skills and other criteria, got a cool reception from business leaders in Northern Ireland and across the water. The chief executive of Hospitality Ulster, Colin Neill, warned no one wants to walk into bars with vending machines instead of staff, where a "burger drops to your plate from somewhere".

But economists and industry leaders in the Republic see the new regime that begins on January 1 as an opportunity to attract labour as the economy nears full employment.

The downside will be coping with their accommodation needs, while non-EU nationals who live in the Republic and work in Northern Ireland face a difficult predicament.

Economist Jim Power said the country will need a fresh inflow of at least 70,000 workers a year to reach its economic targets.

"Obviously, Ireland will be more attractive as long as you are from the EU," he said.

"If we want sustained growth of 3pc to 4pc of GDP that we are chasing at the moment, we will need a fresh inflow of at least 70,000 to 80,000 workers a year. Some of that will have to be satisfied from outside.

"The construction sector will probably face the most constraints. We also have a serious shortage of care workers. Across every sector, there's a mixture of highly skilled, lower skilled workers required, it's not either or, it's both."

He said migrants could help solve the housing crisis, but housing them while they do it will be a challenge.

Shane Dempsey, of the Construction Industry Federation, said the new regime is a "boon" for the construction sector.

"The UK's decision is a parting gift to the Irish economy in terms of solving housing," he said.

Irish Independent