John Reid, the Home Secretary, in a reaction to mounting public anxiety over immigration has effectively called for official limits on the numbers coming into Britain. He hinted that a new body could be set up to advise the government on “optimum levels of immigration” consistent with the country’s economic needs and “social stability”.
The Home Secretary’s statement does beg the question as to why he feels the Home Office are not doing this already under its ‘Managed Migration’ programme?
This is a major shift in policy by a government which previously rejected similar proposals by Michael Howard the then Tory opposition leader.
This follows news of a leaked Home Office report revealing deep concerns over the rising numbers of immigrants coming in from new EU countries in Eastern Europe.
“People recognize that others from outside this country can bring great skills here, but they also want to be assured that our services, whether it’s schools or hospitals, and indeed their own terms and conditions, will be preserved and immigration will be managed,” Reid said on a news discussion program on the BBC.
John Reid is said to be lobbying for restrictions on ‘free movement of labour’ from two countries, Romania and Bulgaria, following the large migration of workers from Eastern Europe since 2004. Britain was one of only three countries to allow people from the 10 new member states to migrate.
Original estimates of 13000 new arrivals in the first year were probably exceeded in the first week and the numbers have since risen to over 600,000 prompting fears that we are being overrun. The vast majority of the new arrivals are in full time work.
Next year Romania and Bulgaria will join the European Union and government estimates are that between 60000 and 140000 people could move to the UK in the first year.
Reid’s views were welcomed by both opposition and Labour MP’s including former Minister Frank Field who said:
“We foolishly went ahead and had an open-door policy in 2004. We’ve now got Bulgaria and Romania coming down the road at us. We need to impose barriers until there is a European-wide policy,”
The care industry has benefited from the increased availability of labour from countries like Poland and Latvia, although many employers have experienced a high turnover of staff from Eastern Europe as they freely move from job to job.
Not everyone from Eastern Europe will settle here
Not everyone from Poland, The Czech Republic or Slovakia is planning to permanently settle in the UK. Some, like Blanca, a young Czech girl who worked for a year in my own office, have already returned home with their newly acquired English skills. Blanca immediately found a well paid office job and is enjoying life in Prague.
Gabriella from Slovakia
We currently employ a Slovakian girl, Gabriela, who has been in the UK for four years. Gabriela qualified as an Engineer and came to the UK to improve her English and save some money to purchase a property. She has already managed to buy her first house in her home town of Kosice and plans to buy another this year.
Gabriela says: “many of my friends plan to go back home once they have saved enough money to buy a house”.
“There are huge infrastructure projects starting in my country. Fords are opening a new car factory near my home town and there are many foreign companies moving their manufacturing plants to Slovakia”.
She also points out that the economy in Slovakia is booming and jobs are more plentiful since they joined the EU. Slovakia will adopt the Euro as their currency in 2008.
The EU expansion and investment has already had a major effect on the economies of the former Eastern Bloc nations. Once people realise that they can find employment without uprooting and leaving their families and friends most will want to stay or return to their own country.
Join me at the Care Show
I will be speaking at the Care Show (NEC 25th October), in a talk entitled:
“Are You Employing Staff Illegally?”
and would look forward to meeting you on the ‘Guide2Care’ stand.
For regular immigration updates see http://www.immigrationmatters.co.uk
If you should have any questions concerning any of the above issues or require advice on work permits, visas and other immigration matters please email Charles Kelly email@example.com.