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Speaking for Ourselves

Editorial: A points-based fiasco

Editorial: A points-based fiasco

MV

 Migrant Voice -
 Migrant Voice - Editorial: A points-based fiasco

The details of the UK’s Points-Based System, published by the Government today, make for dismal reading.

This is the system we feared all along – one that would see our communities become financially, socially and culturally poorer, and many of those eager to come and work in the UK and contribute to our society barred. Since it was first proposed, we wanted this scheme scrapped – and we still do.

It’s claimed in the Introduction to today’s document – and in all of the marketing for this scheme – that it’s “fair… because we will treat people from every part of the world equally”. Yet research shows that points-based systems are inherently racially, gender and age biased, and likely to favour migrants who are male, young and hail from a developed, Western country. That’s hardly fair.

Beyond this, any system that reduces people to a number – whether a salary or a number of points – is in our view deeply unfair and poses a threat to values of inclusion and diversity, diminishing the creativity and richness that come with diverse communities. After all, we would never judge a British person’s contribution to society by the size of their pay packet alone – why should we do so with migrants?

This is an argument we’ve heard a lot more of recently, as politicians and the public have found a new appreciation for some of the lower paid grafters in society – nurses, bus drivers, supermarket workers. But, sadly, this hasn’t filtered through to the points-based system. Yes, the Government has created a special, fast-track route with reduced fees for some health and care sector workers, but frontline care home workers are excluded and those in other lower paid roles are left high and dry.

We may soon find that special routes have to be created in other sectors too – perhaps so many that the fundamental uselessness of this scheme for both employers and employees will be finally exposed. Finally, it’s simply hard to trust a scheme that requires the creation of a separate route for health workers, some of the most important workers in our society. Can we really say that this scheme is functional if this is necessary?

What’s worrying too is the amount of information that’s still missing in today’s document, the number of details that the Home Office admits haven’t been finalised yet. We’re also concerned about the amount of personal information that will be held and only accessible online; about the stated aim of gathering fingerprints and biometric facial images from all visitors and migrants to the UK; and about the harsh, yet vague, rules for refusing applications from or deporting those with criminal records.

While there are a few chinks of light – such as the Government accepting the Law Commission’s recommendation to simplify the (currently nightmarishly complex) immigration rules and guidance – these are few and far between.

But this scheme isn’t law yet. There is still time to fight it – and we must do so. It is possible to create a system where people can come to the UK to do jobs that are wanted and needed, where they are paid fairly for their work, and where they are welcomed as human beings – that is the future we want to see and will continue fighting for.

 

TOP IMAGE: Test of Strength, Steve Snodgrass, Flickr, CC BY 2.0