By Fletcher Day
Until May 2016, London was the go-to destination for Italian nationals wanting to broaden their horizons and enhance their careers. Studying, taking up a job, starting a business: just some of the reasons that motivated hundreds of thousands to move to a city just as cosmopolitan and exciting as New York (a long-time Italian favourite), but with the comforts and reassurance of being in Europe.
The past ten years have seen numbers of Italian immigrants soar. Matching restaurants, shops, hotels and art galleries have flourished, feeding into the appetite for 'Made in Italy,' shared equally by the affluent Italian population and by the many wealthy families from all over the world who continue to choose London as their home.
Then came Brexit. A political tsunami that has shaken the confidence of many foreigners in the viability of London as a long-term business hub. This lack of certainty has paralysed many of the initiatives that entrepreneurs and professionals from all over the world had been developing in London.
However, one must not forget that of the many reasons why London became the main financial capital of the world (and hangout of choice for the world's richest), being within the European Union cannot be seen as the be-all-and-end-all.
It is certainly handy to have freedom of movement. But the number of requests that our own Immigration Department at Fletcher Day receives and handles from Middle-Eastern, Asian, Russian, and American citizens wanting to move to the UK is testament to the fact that even when you need a visa, London is still a place that people want to live and do business in.
Since the referendum, the rule of law and the high regard with which the UK judicial system is held across the world, has not changed. The convenience of transport infrastructure has not changed. The overall security of the streets of London has not changed.
And now businesses can also look forward to reduced Corporate tax rates, currently at 19% but already set to go as low as 17% in 2020, in stark contrast to Italy's burdensome fiscal policies.
Opening a new company in England takes less than one hour, and is cheaper than in most countries on the Continent. The system is simple and transparent, almost all operations necessary for the incorporation and subsequent management of a company can be done entirely online.
Employment law is more flexible than in Italy or France, and the UK is still the preferred jurisdiction for international commercial contracts, thus having a UK Limited company means immediate international recognition and easy-to-prove 'good standing'.
For startups and entrepreneurs, the Government has introduced programmes (such as the SEIS - Seed Enterprise Investment Scheme and the EIS - Enterprise Investment Scheme) to encourage UK taxpayers to invest in early-stage companies.
This reduces risk thanks to generous tax rebates that can be up to 70% of the amount invested. Research & Development reliefs mean that companies' spend on research can immediately be recouped in the form of a tax credit or of cash payments if the company has not reached profitability.
Moreover, London still offers one of the most vibrant, rich and culturally varied environments making it the ideal base for international growth for individuals and businesses. Brexit - whenever and however it will happen - is not going to change this, and those Italian individuals and businesses considering moving to or investing in the UK should not be discouraged by it.
For more information about how the team can help you establish your business in London or the UK please contact Kyri Papantoniou.
The contents of this article are intended for general information purposes only and shall not be deemed to be, or constitute legal advice. We cannot accept responsibility for any loss as a result of acts or omissions taken in respect of this article.