Immigration Minister Robert Jenrick has formulated a set of proposals aimed at reducing immigration to the UK. Although these ideas, currently under internal discussion, have not yet become official government policy, they have been shared with No 10.
One of the proposals suggests implementing a mandatory minimum annual salary of £35,000 to qualify for a work visa. This move comes in response to recent official figures revealing a higher net migration figure of 745,000 people, prompting calls from Conservative MPs for more decisive action to lower migration rates.
Chancellor Rishi Sunak asserted that he considers current immigration levels too high and emphasized the necessity of bringing them down to “sustainable levels.” Prime Minister Boris Johnson emphasized the government’s commitment to curbing migration, highlighting measures such as tightening regulations on dependents of students entering the UK, which he described as “the single toughest measure” taken in a long time to reduce legal migration.
Work and Pensions Secretary Mel Stride, speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Today program, emphasized that since Brexit, the UK government has regained control over migration levels and stressed the importance of utilizing this control effectively. He mentioned that the Autumn Statement, scheduled for this week, would contribute to reducing migration by integrating more UK citizens into the labor market.
While acknowledging the necessity of some level of migration to address skills shortages in the economy, Mr. Stride proposed filling these gaps by reintegrating long-term unemployed individuals into the labor market through a £2.5 billion overhaul of the benefits system.
Robert Jenrick reportedly believes that addressing the substantial net migration numbers requires considering radical policy changes to eventually decrease these figures.Some of his suggestions include preventing those employed in health and social care from bringing dependents to the UK and imposing a cap on visas for individuals working in social care. However, such proposals may face resistance, especially from the Department of Health, which has experienced an influx of workers on visas to address severe staff shortages in the NHS and social care, according to the Office for National Statistics.
Additionally, Mr. Jenrick has proposed eliminating the Shortage Occupation List, a catalog of jobs that employers find challenging to fill. This recommendation aligns with the advice provided by the Migration Advisory Committee, an independent body offering guidance to the government on migration issues, which recommended scrapping the list earlier this month.