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What the immigration reforms mean

February 20, 2020 11:03 AM
By Isabel Hardman in The Spectator - Evening Blend

After years of British politicians calling for a 'points-based immigration system', the government today unveiled what it hopes will be the answer. Under its plans for a new post-Brexit way of managing migration, ministers are dropping visas for low-skilled workers. Anyone wishing to come to the UK for work must reach 70 points under the system. 'Skilled' will now be defined as those educated to at least A-level/Scottish Higher standard, with a rejig of the different types of worker covered so that carpenters, plasterers and childminders are included, while people waiting tables will not be. Workers must have a job offer with a minimum salary of £25,600, though that will be at a lower level of £20,480 for those with PhDs that are important to a specific job, and certain sectors where there are shortages, including nursing, civil engineering, and classical ballet.

Inevitably this has been met with political criticism, with Labour saying the government is creating a 'hostile environment', and the SNP deriding Priti Patel's argument that businesses need to make better use of the eight million 'economically inactive' workers in the UK (many of these people are unable to work because of ill health). Then there's the criticism from businesses that they just aren't going to be able to get the staff, even if they work out a way of healing the sick and tapping into the 'economically inactive' Brits in a way that the Conservatives haven't in the past decade of government. Perhaps most worrying of all is the continued confusion over whether the care sector will suffer even greater shortages than it does at the moment: one in 11 posts are vacant in adult social care, with a heavy reliance on foreign workers.

But the headline for the Conservatives is that they are cracking down on unskilled immigration and, yes, taking back control of the system. They'll be happy with that, even while (hopefully) acknowledging that there are a lot of wrinkles to be sorted out before the new system launches.