THE pandemic and the impact of conflict like the war in Ukraine has led to unprecedented levels of immigration to the UK, writes Mark Harper.
Net migration in the year to June 2023 was up significantly on pre-pandemic levels but lower than the number who came in 2022.
While we can be proud of our generosity towards people fleeing conflict and persecution in Ukraine, Hong Kong and Afghanistan, clearly the current level of migration is not sustainable.
That is why last week, the Prime Minister and the Home Secretary announced a series of measures to bring these numbers down.
First, we will stop care workers from bringing dependents to the UK. In the year ending September 2023, 120,000 dependants came to the UK alongside 100,000 care and senior care workers, a higher number per main applicant than on any other major route.
Most dependants are not in paid work and so are not contributing to the economy, but are making use of public services such as schools and healthcare.
We will also limit care providers in England who can sponsor a social worker to those undertaking Care Quality Commission-regulated activities, clamping down on unscrupulous recruitment agencies.
The Government will additionally be increasing salary thresholds for skilled worker visas by 48 per cent to £38,700, bringing it in line with the average wage for equivalent jobs.
This will mean employers aren’t incentivised to undercut UK workers with cheaper alternatives from overseas and instead invest in the skills of our domestic workforce.
There will be minor exemptions from some critical sectors such as care work, nursing, and teachers.
Further still, the Government will ensure that those migrating to this country only bring dependents that they can support financially by raising the minimum income for family visas to £38,700, making sure the British taxpayer does not subsidise immigration.
The Minimum Income Requirement, which sets the level of income an individual or couple must have to get family visas for their spouse or children to come to the UK, has not been increased since 2012.
Together these reforms are expected to deliver the largest-ever reduction in legal migration and help the Government achieve its aim of getting net migration back down to pre-pandemic levels.
If it had been in place last year, around 300,000 fewer people would have been able to come to the UK.
This Conservative Government will work diligently to bring migration down towards more sustainable levels while making sure the NHS and businesses have access to the talent they need.