Inside the migrant crisis storm: David Cameron’s tough stance on immigration is affecting workers and students from non-EU countries above all and this is clearly damaging to the UK economy.
In the midst of the current EU migrant crises, everyone appears to have forgotten about David Cameron’s failing immigration policy, which just does not achieve its intended purpose. The figures recently published by the Office for National Statistics revealed that migration to the UK has grown beyond recorded peak levels.
The data showed that migration had increased to 330,000 for the year ending March 2015. This confirms that the number of people coming to the UK has grown to above the peak of 320,000 reached in 2005 under the previous Labour government, which was far more lenient in its immigration policy. Nonetheless, David Cameron is insisting that the current government will keep to its promise to cut migrant numbers down to just “tens of thousands” by reducing the net migration.
While the public agrees that the Government needs to deliver a managed immigration policy, particularly so in light of the current migrant crises that has hit the European Union, what the above figures show is that a one-size-fits-all approach to migration just does not work! Quite simply, the government’s net migration target is not fit for purpose.
The issue of the net migration target is quite simply the fact that it is a “net” figure. It includes so many variables that it cannot be relied upon as an indication of the overall migration trends. Net migration represents Immigration (moving into the UK) less Emigration (outside the UK). It covers all types of Immigrants, such as highly skilled workers, students, family members, EU Nationals, asylum seekers etc.
Being part of the European Union, the UK Government cannot opt out of the free movement of people, which is a fundamental principle of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union. Therefore, the government continues to tighten the immigration rules on non-EU migrants, the category which arguably brings the greatest benefit to the UK economy.
Highly skilled workers, for example, contribute greatly to the economy as they can only be in the UK if they continue to be employed and consequently pay taxes. They also help to plug skills gaps in sectors that rely heavily on science, technology, engineering, and maths. The immigration requirements for the category are already quite difficult to fulfil as it is with restrictions on minimum wage and market labour test making sure that there are no suitable workers already living permanently in the UK.
As a result of these ongoing immigration difficulties for the UK-based companies of recruiting non-EU nationals (associated mainly with increased minimum wage requirements), some employers started proactively recruiting EU nationals, which does not solve the problem of net migration; it is simply substituting non-EU workers with EU workers. Whereas other, who are unable to find such a substitute in the EU market, could be forced to relocate abroad rather than cope with the immigration restrictions and have to pay the higher salaries. This would undoubtedly be a huge loss for the economy in terms of the taxes and contributions these companies make to the economy.
The cap for non-EU skilled workers entering the UK imposed by the government has been breached every month since June this year, which means the Government must look seriously at extending the number of Tier 2 visas available so this country’s businesses can continue to access the skills they need to succeed. This is the most valuable immigration category to the country and it should not suffer as a result of the government’s ill-conceived idea of a net migration target.
International students is another category being greatly affected by the current government’s policy. International students are clearly struggling to comply with the new rules and restrictions on the financial requirements as well as increased University entry fees. Numbers are choosing to instead turn to alternative “non-EU student friendly” jurisdictions such as Switzerland, US and Canada. Turning away these international students could costs the economy as much as £2.3 billion in tuition fees and living costs not mentioning the potential long-term benefits to the UK education system of attracting the most gifted international brains.
New proposals to further increase the minimum wage requirement for Tier 2 visas and a proposed requirement for students to return home before applying for work visas could make it virtually impossible for the majority of prospective students to stay in the UK after their studies come to an end making the UK a much less attractive jurisdiction to pursue their studies and careers in the first place.
It is notable that almost every time the net migration figures come out, the governments drop its long-term migration plan and attempts to immediately introduce new measures of achieving an unrealistic target. There is little doubt that introducing restrictions against highly skilled workers and students in damaging to the UK economy whereas all that is needed is a sensible plan for managing inward migration in the way that is in the best interest of the country, its people and its economy.