At the recent Tory party conference, the Home Secretary, Sajid Javid revealed potential details of the Government’s plans for post-Brexit immigration policies. Denying any suggestion that he was “pulling up the drawbridge” (after a questioner made reference to Javid’s own father who arrived from Pakistan in 1961 with no skills and only £1 in his pocket), Javid explained that times had changed and that the UK no longer required lower-skill migrants in the same numbers as in the past.
A single immigration system
The proposed new single immigration system will treat immigrants in the same way regardless of whether they come from an EU or a non-EU country. Under the plans, higher-skilled immigrants are to be favoured over lower-skilled ones. Obviously, this aspect of the proposed policy does nothing to assuage the fears of the catering and agricultural industries, among others, who have already raised concerns about a reduced workforce.
A new British value’s test
Expressing his dissatisfaction with the current “Life in the UK” test, which he likened to a pub quiz, Sajid Javid announced that the new British values test would focus on “integration not segregation”. Pointing out that an estimated 700,000 immigrants cannot communicate in English (or, presumably, any other of the UK’s native languages), he explained that the new test would lay particular emphasis on language skills.
Minimum salary threshold
1080Although Javid hinted that the minimum salary threshold of £30,000 could be reviewed for highly-skilled migrants, the Government’s Migration Advisory Committee has since announced its recommendation that there should be no such break for lower-skilled workers. This recommendation has already faced strong criticism from a variety of business interests but the chief executive of the British Retail Consortium, Helen Dickinson, went furthest with her blunt assessment that 95% of retail workers would fail to meet this threshold. Forestalling any suggestion that UK workers could plug any labour shortage, she went on to point out that the retail industry is already struggling to fill 92,000 vacancies. This is a figure that equates to 11% of vacancies across all sectors in the UK.
The Government intends to expand on these plans in a white paper to be published this autumn, with a bill to follow next year. Whether intentional or not, this timescale means that it is unlikely that MPs will be able to vote on the legislation prior to March 2019, when the UK is due to leave the EU.
Article supplied by Clifford Johnston & Co Solicitors