What are Intra Company Transfers?

  • Intra-Company Transfer (ICT) permits allow companies to transfer specialist or senior staff between countries temporarily.
  • Rather than being used by multi-nationals, ICT permits are used in large numbers by outsourcing companies supplying low cost labour to UK companies.
  • Unlike other types of work permit, ICTs are not part of the government’s ‘cap’ on immigration.
  • Unlike most work permits, companies do not have to check if a UK worker is available before filling a post with an ICT worker.
  • Each ICT worker must be paid the “going rate” for the specific job they do, based on a list prepared by the UK Borders Agency.
  • However, companies can make up this “going rate” with numerous special allowances.
  • Complex rules govern these allowances. These lack clarity and IPSE members maintain this has left the door open for abuse and undercutting, leaving ICT workers underpaid and freelancers displaced.

No level playing field

  • Freelancers in the IT industry allege they are finding themselves displaced by ICT workers. This is against immigration rules.
  • ICT permits are clearly being used in ways far removed from their original purpose. Large IT outsourcing companies secure thousands of these permits at a time to supply workers to UK companies, rather than to transfer specialist or senior staff for their own use. The House of Commons Public Accounts Committee has found that two-thirds of all ICT permits go to the IT industry. IPSE's own data shows that this continues to be the case in 2015, with the biggest users of ICT permits being IT outsourcing companies.
  • Tax-free allowances can be counted as part of an ICT worker’s salary. This can mean ICT workers cost less to engage than even a UK worker on the same salary.
  • The complexity of the system means it is difficult to police. The Public Accounts Committee stated that The UK Borders Agency (UKBA) “does not have enough control over whether sponsoring employers comply with their duties and does not appear to know where the main risks lie.” It also stated that UKBA “does not have enough control over the ICT route”.
  • Freelancers want a level playing field in the market for their services. ICT permits are designed to be a useful tool for businesses to transfer skills, not a way for large outsourcing companies to supply cheap IT workers to British firms.

2016 Update: IPSE policy success

  • IPSE has extensively lobbied the government on this issue, including meeting with senior civil servants and MPs, responding to consultations, and supplying evidence to Parliamentary committees.
  • Our manifesto, published in 2014, set out that government must act to ensure that independent professionals are not undercut by those on ICT permits. The minimum ICT salary must no longer include tax-free allowances and needs to be set at a high rate to ensure a level playing field. We want to make it much tougher to use ICTs beyond their intended purpose of providing specialist skills or receiving training.
  • Following our lobbying efforts, including responding to Migration Advisory Committee consultations, the government has agreed to implement welcome changes. 
  • From 2017, a higher minimum salary threshold of £41,500 will be for those recruited through ICTs. This should help address abuse of ICT rules by large outsourcing companies.
  • It is essential now that the Government ensures the new proposals are implemented effectively, with no loopholes which could allow the current unfair system to continue.
  • We continue to sit on the IT sector consultation panel, which reports back to the UK Borders Agency on issues affecting this sector. This means that government is aware of our concerns  and we are being listened to.

Reporting ICT Abuse

We will continue to monitor the system and collate any evidence of abuses, and feed into Government policy-making where necessary.

IPSE strongly encourages anyone who thinks they may have been directly displaced or replaced as a result of ICT abuse to contact us using https://www.ipse.co.uk/contact-us  . Please use “ICT ABUSE” in the subject line.