Immigration plan fails to protect UK workers at time of rising unemployment


May 18, 2020

Far from delivering a firmer and fairer system (as Ministers have promised), Government’s immigration shake-up represents a serious risk for the UK.

That's the takeaway from new estimates contained in a new Home Office Impact Assessment, which suggest that tens of thousands more migrants from outside the EU will be able to come here as a result of the reforms.

As it stands, the proposed system would mean a newly uncapped system, riddled with loopholes, opening up millions more UK medium (and even lower-skilled) jobs - such as child minder and teaching assistant - to new global competition during a period of grave economic strife.

Crucially it would fail to deliver control of immigration after Brexit.

It is now also clear that the Covid-19 crisis will lead to a very high level of unemployment, yet the proposals pose a serious risk to the prospects of British jobseekers and workers in the current climate.

Ministers and MPs must remember that, following the 2008 financial crisis, it took six years for the number of UK-born workers to regain its pre-crash level, while the number of workers born abroad increased by more than a million as employers sought out cheaper labour.

As the Immigration Bill receives its second reading in the House of Commons, the government would be wise to amend their immigration plan in order to:

  1. have in readiness powers to impose acap on work permits. This must be capable of being done at very short notice as the courts would rule that all applications in the pipeline should be decided under the previous rules.
  2. postpone indefinitely the “new entrant” routethat gives employers the simplest work-around to avoid meeting headline salary thresholds.
  3. retain the long-standing requirement that jobs first be advertised in the UK. This is a vital safeguard for jobseekers that will be especially important during a period of high unemployment. Employers must do all they can to take on workers already in the UK.
  4. Maintain the general salary threshold for high-skill workers at the level of£30,000 and the qualification criterion at the present degree level.

Alp Mehmet, Chairman of Migration Watch UK, said: 

The government seem to be sticking to immigration proposals that have been overtaken by the Covid-19 crisis. As their own impact assessment suggests, the proposed system may well drive an increase in immigration. 

This is absolutely not the time to be opening six million jobs to new or increased international competition. And it is simply wrong that jobs should no longer have to be advertised in the UK before being opened up to recruits around the globe.

NB See coverage of this comment in...

The Sun: 'MPs overwhelmingly back Boris Johnson’s post-Brexit points-based immigration system'

Mail Online: 'New immigration system will see 50,000 extra non-EU workers and families let into the UK each year'



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