BIGGEST EVER CLAMPDOWN ‘WILL SLASH MIGRATION BY 300,000’
Salary threshold for foreign employees hiked to £38,000 ++ Curbs on care workers’ families ++ Now Cleverly flies out to seal Rwanda treaty
By David Barrett and Jason Groves
JAMES Cleverly last night vowed ‘enough is enough’ as he unveiled tough reforms designed to slash net migration by 300,000 a year.
After a battering from the Tory backbenches over record levels of immigration, the Home Secretary pledged a five-point plan would lead to the ‘biggest ever reduction in net migration’.
Hailing ‘the most substantial package of legal migration reforms this country has ever seen,’ he said care workers will be barred from bringing family members to Britain.
The salary threshold for a work visa will rise by £12,500 to more than £38,000 a year. And to stop immigration ‘undercutting British workers’,
he vowed to ‘ scrap cut-price shortage labour from overseas’ by ending the 20 per cent salary discount for sectors with labour shortages, and slashing the list of eligible roles.
Critics warned the measures may not take effect soon enough to make a difference to migration figures before the next general election.
Mr Cleverly said the proposals – due to come into force in April – also expanded upon previous commitments to bar most foreign students from bringing family members to the UK.
After unveiling the plans, he was expected to fly to Rwanda last night to sign a new treaty in the hope of seeing deportation flights for small boat migrants begin as soon as possible.
Mr Cleverly told MPs: ‘ Enough is enough. We’ve got to bring these numbers down. In total this package, plus our reduction in student dependants, will mean around 300,000 fewer people will come in future years than have come to the UK last year.’
He said the measures were only possible thanks to the historic Brexit vote. ‘When our country voted to leave the European Union, we voted to take back control of our borders,’ he said.
‘Thanks to this Conservative Government, we now have a points-based immigration system through which we control who comes to the UK.’
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s official spokesman said: ‘This is the biggest clampdown on legal migration ever. It doesn’t prevent us going further should we chose to do so in the future.’
Under the plan – announced days after it emerged net migration had hit an all-time high of 745,000 last year – the bar on care workers bringing dependants is expected to cut net migration by about 100,000 a year at current levels, it is understood.
Raising the salary threshold for a work visa to £38,700 is expected to slash a further 50,000 a year from the net total.
Crucially, care workers will be excluded from the salary hike in a bid to avoid worsening labour shortages in the sector. A review of the jobs on the ‘shortage occupation list’ will aim to cut the number of sectors it applies to.
Mr Cleverly also announced he will toughen family visas which allow relatives of foreign nationals to come here.
Former Home Secretary Suella Braverman, who was sacked three weeks ago, said the announcement was a ‘step in the right direction’ but was ‘too late’.
‘I put forward similar measures six times in the last year,’ she wrote on X, formerly known as Twitter. ‘I’m glad that the PM has finally agreed to introducing some of them now but the delay has reduced their impact.’
Mrs Braverman has previously accused the PM of reneging on a private agreement to cut migration, including a deal to raise the salary threshold to £40,000.
The new package echoes proposals put forward by former PM Boris Johnson in his Daily Mail column last month, when he advocated a £40,000 salary threshold and said business owners who had become accustomed to accessing cheap foreign labour should be ‘called out’.
Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper said Mr Cleverly’s plan was an ‘admission of years of total failure by the Government’.
dmg media (UK)