LONDON, Dec 5: In a bid to address soaring net migration figures, the UK government has revealed a comprehensive plan to significantly reduce the number of migrants arriving through legal channels. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, under increasing pressure to manage migration, announced a key change involving a one-third increase in the minimum salary for skilled jobs.
High levels of legal migration have long been a focal point in British politics, notably influencing the Brexit decision in 2016. Sunak, facing criticism from his Conservative Party ahead of an anticipated election next year, aims to regain control over migration levels.
However, the proposed measures have sparked criticism from both businesses and trade unions. Critics argue that the changes could exacerbate labor shortages in the private sector and strain the state-run health service. Recent data indicates a record net migration figure of 745,000 in 2022, with a shift in the source countries from the EU to nations like India, Nigeria, and China.
Home Secretary James Cleverly, outlining the new measures, expressed the government's goal to reduce annual net migration by approximately 300,000. Sunak emphasized the need for radical action to address what he perceives as excessive immigration.
Key components of the plan include raising the minimum salary threshold for foreign skilled workers from £26,200 to £38,700, with exemptions for health and social workers. Additional measures involve restricting family members of foreign health workers from entering on their visas, a 66% increase in migrants' health service surcharge, and an elevation of the minimum income for family visas.
The proposal may trigger conflicts with business owners already grappling with labor shortages and the cessation of free movement from the EU. The government's plan to abolish the shortage occupations list, a primary avenue for hiring migrant workers in sectors with severe staff shortages, has raised concerns among employers.
Cleverly also announced the termination of the system allowing employers to pay migrants 80% of the standard rate for jobs facing worker shortages, promising a review of the shortage occupations list. Despite the government's emphasis on protecting British workers' salaries, some studies suggest that foreign workers have minimal impact on overall wages and employment levels.
Critics, including trade body UKHospitality and trade unions like UNISON, warn that the proposed changes may worsen talent shortages, particularly in sectors like hospitality. The ongoing challenge of finding qualified candidates for job vacancies persists, according to recent insights from the Bank of England.
As the UK navigates this significant immigration overhaul, concerns mount about potential consequences for the labor markets, businesses, and the health service. The debate over the proposed changes is likely to intensify in the coming months.
The post UK introduces new visa measures to curb migration first appeared on ARAB TIMES – KUWAIT NEWS.