Last week, Priti Patel revealed a new plan for the United Kingdom’s immigration points system. She said it was a policy to aim to get the ‘best’ people to emigrate to the UK. However, the reaction from the Liberal party, businesses, many of the public, and even the Scottish Conservatives has not been positive.
Like them, I am simply baffled by the Conservatives choice to adopt this system. I for one, like many Liberals, believe that immigration is a great aspect for a growing country. Especially for Britain.
The new system is very simple. A migrant can apply for a working visa, but must achieve 70 points. To achieve this you must tick the several boxes. Speak English and have a guaranteed job from a UK sponsored company with the job paying £25,600 a year. The UK sponsored companies are a select few companies that have effectively been allowed to hire people emigrating to the UK.
I hope you are starting to see the problem.
The first, maybe not a problem but certainly mistake, is to compare this to the Australian points system. Unlike the UK, Australia is actually trying to increase immigration by adopting a much more flexible plan. The UK does not plan to do this. Not only that, but Australia is actually looking at dropping the policy in the near future. Therefore, to claim that we are adopting the Australian immigration system is just baffling.
In addition, the NHS is relying on immigration! Although some think the NHS is struggling because of immigration, read our previous article to understand why it is not.
In 2014 the NHS noted that 11% of its staff were migrants, with 26% of doctors being non-British. In fact, ‘India provided the highest number [of NHS staff] after Britain, with 18,424 out of a total of 1,052,404 workers whose identity was known.’ That was in 2014! This has grown significantly with the foreign workforce making up a sixth of care workers.
As we all know the NHS has a shortage in nurses and we are relying on immigrants to fill these valuable roles. But how will we be able to fill these jobs when the average income for nurses is £20,480? When the requirements for gaining a visa is to work for a minimum salary of £25,600?
The healthcare system is not the only concerned industry. Businesses are also scared. Brits don’t want to fill the roles that some businesses desperately need. 10% of the construction workforce are foreign workers. Farmers are also deeply worried by this policy with ‘the British Poultry Council alone saying that 60% of its 23,000 workers are EU nationals.’
The UK economic machine relies on a hardworking and dedicated foreign workforce. How do we replace it? The UK is technically fully employed – although discussing that is opening up a whole new can of worms. So what is meant to be done?
As a country, we use foreign workforce more than you know, whether it is legal or illegal. I don’t think this plan will stop immigration, it will just increase illegal immigration.
Surprisingly, coming to the UK on a tourist visa works. That’s what England’s rugby star Manu Tuilagi did, and it is amazing he did.
The UK seriously needs to wake up and realise that not only is immigration a fantastic thing, but that all of us seriously rely on it. We must stop shunning it, and embrace the cultural diversity it brings.
Written by Chief Liberal Editor, Max Anderson
Point of information
Work to be done, but the right messages are tucked in there – a Conservative response
I completely understand where Mr Anderson is coming from. There are numerous UK job-business sectors which rely on an immigrant workforce. And yes, the average nurse’s income is below the minimum standard for the UK points system.
This proposed system does need work but Mr Anderson is suggesting that it completely nullifies the dedicated foreign workforce. That is not the impression I took.
It may be naive, but I hope that the points system doesn’t result in widespread unemployment within our immigrant population. In fact, I hope that it reduces the exploitation of foreign workers. Through checking that immigrating workers have jobs to start when they arrive, we can prevent this.
In sum, I am predominately for all that Mr Anderson has to say. Immigration is a fantastic thing, but it needs to be properly managed. Adjusted and examined on a regular basis. Everyone will look at this proposed system from a different set of eyes but it is a starting point from which I hope everyone benefits.
Written by Conservative Editor, Josh Tyrrell
The numbers don’t add up – a Labour response
A solid article from Mr Anderson laying out some of the issues of this new system.
For my part, I just wanted to highlight some of the solutions that have been suggested by our venerable Home Secretary, just to add something that my colleague missed.
In order to make up for these shortages, Ms Patel is proposing that we train up the “8.45 million people between 16 and 64 who are economically inactive.” This sounds fine until you look at who exactly those millions of people are. Then we run into some obvious problems.
As the ONS understands, students make up the bulk of that number, coming in at 2.3 million. Next, come those who are sick and/or disabled. That’s another 2.1 million. Then we have 1.9 million people who stay home looking after their children, or working as home carers for the aforementioned 2.1 million. At just over a million there are those who are retired.
Is Priti proposing that we press-gang them into service? With the cuts to pensions going on right now at universities that may be necessary.
Next, we get to the small numbers: 160,000 who are temporarily sick, 33,000 discouraged workers who do not believe the job market will accept them. Then, the encapsulating ‘other’ category. Containing those who do need work, those who are looking for work and a myriad of other types.
Once we do a little bit of subtraction, Priti Patel’s plan to bolster the labour stock from our 8.5 million slacking citizens does not actually seem to add up. The less than two million people who are economically inactive yet desire work will not make up the gaps that will emerge should this new immigration system come to pass.
Another point I would like to just touch on is the discourse around this policy and the distinction between skilled and unskilled workers. If we are having to train people up to fill the role left by EU workers, then they were never unskilled.
The economisation of the labour market that has designated so many jobs as ‘unskilled’ is just not in touch with reality. People’s labour needs to start being recognised commensurate to the amount of effort they are putting and the impact it has on society, not by purely economic indicators.
Written by Labour Editor, Daniel Orchard