Paula Pennant on: The Immigration Cap

GMT 16:25 Thursday ,16 December 2010

 Migrant Voice - Paula Pennant on: The Immigration Cap

Paula Pennant
The government recently declared that a cap of 21,700 skilled workers from outside the European Economic Area would be operational in the UK. So how exactly will this be achieved? The Home Affairs Committee has stated that new regulations on international students and those joining family members in the UK would be put in place. In order to bring numbers down, it is possible that some migrants would be stripped of their right to settle in the UK. Skilled workers from outside the European Economic Area earning £24,000-£40,000 would only be allowed to stay in the UK for a year. It is likely that those earning less than £24,000 a year will be disqualified from the transfer route. This intended cap will be effective from 2011.In 2009, the net migration, which is the difference between the number of people coming to live in the UK and the number emigrating, was 196,000. The UK government would like to halve this figure by 2015. Although David Cameron has said that this immigration cap on skilled workers is “business-friendly” and immigration minister Damian Green affirmed that the cap is one of the ways to “reduce net immigration to the tens of thousands" not everyone is in agreement with this controversial move. Shadow immigration minister Phil Woolas declared that the cap was “a pre-election gimmick to con the voters into thinking it would control immigration”. He may have a point. The Commons Home Affairs Committee has stated that only 1% to 20% of the total number of immigrants would be affected which consequently would "make little difference to immigration overall" unless it was set at virtually zero.Scotland’s government has publicly declared it is unhappy with the ways in which the UK government is trying to cut immigration and wants a more flexible approach instead. In a letter, the Scottish Government along with industry leaders stated that the tough new UK Visa caps will injure economic recovery. Scottish External Affairs Minister Fiona Hyslop said “We are deeply concerned about the damaging impact the annual limit will have on the Scottish economy. Scottish businesses, employers, universities and the NHS share our concerns that the UK proposal is not right for Scotland,” That’s not all, she believes that ‘The immigration cap will… have a negative impact on business investment. It will hit our key sectors and small businesses particularly hard. It will target high-earning immigrants who pay tax in this country. It will put Scotland at a competitive disadvantage and our economy will suffer”. The Scottish government and business leaders are so unhappy with this proposed cap that they would like Scotland to have the power to alter immigration restrictions so that demands are met.It’s no surprise that anti-migration groups such as Migrationwatch approve of this cap and are encouraging the government to introduce more immigration restrictions. It is a worrying state of affairs as it seems as though the UK government is not heeding the many concerns that are being voiced about this immigration policy. On the 13th of December this immigration package was finalised. Labour’s Phil Woolas is of the belief that ‘the cap is the worst of both worlds - it doesn't control immigration but it does damage our economy and universities’ Indeed there is a possible risk that a permanent cap could hinder businesses. It could even deter talented international professionals from coming to the UK.

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