An investigation by Radio Four’s File on 4 has discovered that British IT contractors have been losing out on jobs to non-EU workers because they are cheaper. This programme had previously uncovered BT’s large-scale use of ‘onshore offshoring’ in their quest to reduce costs. A former BT contractor was told that he was being replaced by a worker from India who would cost about half of what he was costing. BT themselves said that they were trying to stop depending so heavily on contractors and that the Indian company was merely providing them with specialist staff.

Businesses can use intra company transfer visas to employ staff from outside the EU, permissible through immigration law if the staff can provide skills which are not available in the UK. BT said that they have a “long standing relationship” with Tech Mahindra and are now just tapping into their “highly skilled workforce”.

The Professional Contractors Group (PCG) has condemned this situation. Their managing director, John Brazier, said: “We had been hearing for some time from contractors that BT may perhaps be one of the worst offenders, replacing contract staff with workers on Intra-Company Transfer visas. Such behaviour reduces opportunities for IT contractors that exist in the UK, and in a recession opportunities should be created, not limited.” He continued, “We believe the system should be amended, and Professor David Metcalfe’s recent comments stating that the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) will be exploring potential options for doing so are encouraging. We will shortly be making our submissions to the MAC calling for significant amendments to the system. Ideally we would like to see no position filled by Intra Company Transfer without first enduring that no UK worker is available to fill the post.”

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