Government proposals would almost certainly be fail to ensure a significant reduction in immigration from pre-Covid 19 crises, and possibly one big increase in non-EU numbers.
This is the result of estimates included in a new home office Impact assessment.
Such a result would be anathema to 30 million people who want to reduce immigration (see our paper on public opinion and immigration).
The government still says its goal is to reduce the total.
However, a number of new paths are opened, including:
- An expanded way for workers from all over the world to switch to medium-skilled roles (they can currently only take high-skilled jobs), at a lower salary, with no cap and no labor market test.
- A new route for graduates that allows students to stay and work for two years instead of the current four months.
- Possible extension of the youth mobility program to EU citizens (depending on negotiations). See telegraph.
It is now also clear that the Covid 19 crisis will result in very high unemployment, but the proposals pose a serious risk to the prospects of British job seekers and workers in the current climate. The number of British people claimed unemployment Benefits rose to their highest level since 1996 in April within a few weeks.
Ministers and MEPs need to remember that it took six years after the 2008 financial crisis for the UK-born workforce to return to pre-crash levels, while the number of overseas workers looking for employers cheaper labor has increased by more than a million.
Since the Immigration Act receives its second reading in the lower house, it would be advisable to change the immigration plan to:
(a) are willing to limit work permits. This must be possible at very short notice, as the courts would decide that all applications in the pipeline should be decided according to the previous rules.
(b) Defer indefinitely the path of the “newcomer” that offers employers the easiest solution to avoid meeting key salary thresholds.
(c) Maintaining the longstanding requirement that jobs be advertised in the UK first. This is an important protection for job seekers, which will be particularly important in times of high unemployment. Employers must do everything they can to hire people already in the UK.
d) Maintaining the general wage threshold for highly skilled workers at GBP 30,000 and the qualification criterion at the current level.
The government appears to be sticking to immigration proposals, which have always been risky, but are now definitely being overtaken by the Covid 19 crisis.
This is absolutely not the right time to open six million jobs to new or increased international competition. And it is simply wrong that jobs no longer have to be posted in the UK before they are opened to recruits around the world.
The government declares in its Influence analysis The: ‘The directive may … provide greater opportunities for employers looking to source skilled workers from outside the United Kingdom and the EEA.”
This is supported by an estimate that politics could cause the number of non-EU workers (along with their dependents) to increase between 25,000 and 50,000 a year.
They also stipulate that the number of students (net) could increase by 20,000 to 25,000 per year.
This can of course be offset by their estimate that net labor migration in the EU would decrease by 50,000 to 100,000 per year in the first four years before gradually stabilizing upwards.
It is clear that certain types of immigration (e.g. students and workers outside the EU) could well increase – something that the government has not yet recognized.
Whether this would be fully or partially offset by a decrease in EU workers is another question and depends on a number of variables, including how the Covid 19 crisis will affect not only the UK but also the EU.
The greater incentive for millions in much poorer and much larger countries such as Pakistan, the Philippines and Nigeria to come here and to fill medium-sized and even less qualified jobs such as childminder, teaching assistant and managerial staff, hardly above that The minimum wage in an unlimited work permit system ( and the much larger differences in relative incomes and living standards) can cause non-EU numbers to continue to grow faster and faster than the government expects, and more than enough to outperform a decline in EU numbers.
The government has announced that it will abolish the Resident Labor Market Test (see both p.55 of the Impact assessment and in government Declaration of principle from February 2020). This rule has been in place for decades and requires employers to post jobs here in the UK before attempting to fill the position from abroad.
As a rule, employers are required to demonstrate that no resident worker can fill the vacancy, which means that they have posted the job in the UK for four weeks. Many countries have a similar provision to protect the interests of local job seekers.
NB See press release on Migration Watch UK:
The sun: “MEPs mostly support Boris Johnson’s point-based immigration system after Brexit.
Mail online:: “The new immigration system leaves 50,000 additional non-EU workers and families in the UK each year.”
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