by Hallum Cowell
On Wednesday February 19, the Government unveiled new plans to control the number of immigrants entering the UK after Brexit. The Home Office has said that people emigrating from EU and non-EU countries would be treated the same after the UK’s transition period ends on December 31.
The new plans would require people hoping to move to the UK to speak English and have qualifications. Immigrants would also have to have a job offer in the UK with a salary of at least £25,600, or £20,480 if there is a skills shortage in the profession they are going into. These highlighted areas currently include nursing, psychology, classical ballet dancing and civil engineering. The skill threshold for immigrants would be placed at A-levels or equivalent, the cap on numbers of skilled workers would be scrapped and some high-skilled workers would be allowed into the country even if they don’t have a job.
The Government wants to implement a points style system where only those who achieved above 70 points would be allowed to enter and live in the UK. Being able to speak English and the offer of a skilled job including an approved sponsor gives 50 points. The applicant would then have to gain the additional 20 points through salary, qualifications or other attributes.
What counts as skilled work is also set to change with waiting staff and ‘elementary’ jobs in fishing and agriculture being taken off the list. There would also be some new jobs added including carpentry, plastering and childminding.
Many industry groups have been quick to condemn the plan. Tom Hadley, Director of Policy at the Recruitment and Employment Confederation, said “Jobs the Government considers ‘low skilled’ are vital to wellbeing and business growth.” Kate Nicholls, chief executive of UK Hospitality also commented on the new plan saying “ruling out a temporary, low-skilled route for migration in just 10 months time would be disastrous for the British people.” Additionally, the Royal College of Nursing, National Farmers Union and the Food and Drink Federation have criticised the plan.
Priti Patel, the Secretary of State for Home Affairs, has argued that British businesses will have to look to potential British workers to fill any gaps. She went on to argue that 20% of the working-age population is available to work and that these people could be encouraged to do so. Critics have argued this 20% is mostly made up of the ill, students, and people with caring responsibilities. They have also said that most of the people that can work in Britain already are.
Jacob Rees–Mogg said on Twitter that the new policy is “a fair policy to attract talent and level for the less well off” and Priti Patel defended her plan by saying “we will no longer have the routes of cheap, low-skilled labour that has dominated immigration and our labour market.”
The Labour Party has accused the new plan of causing a “hostile environment” which would make it harder to attract workers while the SNP has called the plan “devastating” for the Scottish economy. The Liberal Democrats have called the plan “xenophobic”.