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How Home Secretary James Cleverly aims to cut net migration by 300,000 a year after he unveils his five-point plan


Home Secretary James Cleverly yesterday set out a far-reaching programme of immigration reform which could see 300,000 fewer migrants a year coming to Britain.

He declared that ‘enough is enough’ – but how will his plan work?

Restricting Dependents 

Care workers will be barred from bringing family members with them to Britain. This has been a rapidly increasing element of net migration – and was an obvious ‘quick win’ for the Government.

In one fell swoop, the net migration total could fall by about 100,000 a year at current levels, insiders were predicting, after Mr Cleverly said some 120,000 dependants accompanied 100,000 care workers in the year to September.

Boosting Wages

There will be two important changes to the salaries which must be paid to foreign workers.

Under the Conservative's new plan, care workers will be banned from bringing their families to the UK. James Cleverly says that this will not discourage such workers from coming to the UK

Under the Conservative’s new plan, care workers will be banned from bringing their families to the UK. James Cleverly says that this will not discourage such workers from coming to the UK

The government hopes that immigration reform will see 300,000 fewer migrants a year coming to Britain

The government hopes that immigration reform will see 300,000 fewer migrants a year coming to Britain

Foreigners seeking to come to work in the UK will now need to earn £38,700 per year to qualify for a work visa

Foreigners seeking to come to work in the UK will now need to earn £38,700 per year to qualify for a work visa

First, the minimum salary threshold for a work visa will jump by almost half – up £12,500 to £38,700 a year. In theory, this will make it less attractive for employers to look for labour overseas rather than hiring British-based staff.

Second, a 20 per cent discount on that minimum salary for sectors suffering labour shortages will be scrapped. The list of eligible jobs where there is a shortage of workers will also be reviewed and stripped back.

Care workers 

Care workers will be exempt from both these salary measures in a bid to avoid exacerbating labour shortages in care homes.

Mr Cleverly told MPs he did not expect the reforms to affect the number of foreign nationals applying for care jobs – and that those without dependants would come to Britain instead.

Dr Madeleine Sumption, director of Oxford University’s Migration Observatory, appeared to agree with the Home Secretary’s analysis. The independent academic said: ‘The number of people around the world who are willing to come to the UK to do care work is potentially very substantial, so the impacts on employers’ ability to recruit might not be very big.’

By excluding care workers in this way, ministers slyly pulled the rug from beneath the feet of critics predicting a care crisis. However, such a broad exclusion does run the risk of making the policy less effective overall.

Foreign Spouses and Relatives 

In perhaps the biggest surprise, the requirements for bringing relatives from abroad will be made far tougher. A British-based individual or household will have to prove they have an income of £38,700 to win a family visa for a relative. That is more than double the current £18,600, which has not increased since 2012.

Only rich Britons will be able to marry foreigners and bring them back to the UK, as they will now need to earn £38,700 to qualify for a family visa for a relative

Only rich Britons will be able to marry foreigners and bring them back to the UK, as they will now need to earn £38,700 to qualify for a family visa for a relative

Ministers have also announced plans to ensure that students do not bring their families with them while they come to study in the UK

Ministers have also announced plans to ensure that students do not bring their families with them while they come to study in the UK 

Some Conservatives have claimed that Rishi Sunak is moving too slowly to introduce measures to make it difficult to come to the UK

Some Conservatives have claimed that Rishi Sunak is moving too slowly to introduce measures to make it difficult to come to the UK

This will mean only better-off families will be able to bring foreign-based family members to join them here. This is expected to cut overall net migration by a ‘few tens of thousands’ a year.

Foreigners who want to study or work in Britain will also have to pay larger sums towards the NHS. The ‘immigration health surcharge’ will jump from £624 to £1,035 per person for each year they are here.

Students 

Ministers had already announced measures to stop most students bringing dependants here. Those changes come into force next month and are expected to see 140,000 fewer people come to this country each year.

In addition, there will be a review led by the Home Office’s independent Migration Advisory Committee of the ‘graduate route’, which allows students to work in Britain for two years after their course.

Is It Enough? 

The new measures could leave net migration running at about 370,000 a year – still far higher than the 229,000 pledged by the Conservatives in their 2019 general election manifesto. Tory MPs on the Right of the party broadly welcomed yesterday’s announcement – but some warned it might not be tough enough. Senior backbencher Sir Edward Leigh suggested exemptions made for the care sector could undermine the package. Former home secretary Suella Braverman indicated it was too little, too late.

But if the next election takes place next autumn, as widely expected, there is still a chance yesterday’s measures will have started to show through in the figures. Then Rishi Sunak may be able to tell voters that immigration has truly turned a corner.



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