The Migration Advisory Committee (MAC), the independent body which reports to the Government on employment trends, has published a report on the Points based System.
It is widely expected that the recommended changes put forward by the Migration Advisory Committee this week will reduce the annual flow of 50,000 skilled non-EU migrants into Britain by 5,000 – about 10%.
The report answers two questions put to it by the Government earlier this year. Both questions relate to the points-based system for immigration to the United Kingdom:
- Is there an economic case for restricting Tier 2 of the points-based system (for sponsored skilled workers) to shortage occupations only?
- What is the Committee’s assessment of the economic contribution made by the dependants of points-based system migrants and their role in the labour market?
Responding to the report’s publication, Home Office Minister Lord West said:
‘The Government’s points-based system has proven itself to be a powerful and flexible tool in meeting the needs of the British workforce and business in these changing economic times.
‘From the outset we demonstrated that flexibility by putting a stop to low-skilled labour entering the UK from outside Europe. In light of the economic downturn we have taken further steps to be more selective of migrants that come to the UK and to give resident workers every opportunity to fill vacancies.
‘The MAC has delivered a robust and thorough report, and the Government will consider it carefully over the coming weeks.’
The full report and the MAC’s press release can be downloaded from UK Border Agency’s website.
The changes which are likely to implemented under the points-based immigration system will include higher earnings and qualification thresholds, longer advertising periods for vacancies before they can be filled by a migrant and changes to the regime for internal international company transfers.
But the committee’s Chairman, Professor David Metcalf, said the points-based immigration system should act as an “automatic stabiliser and not be constantly adjusted in response to the economic cycle”. He said the changes they were proposing would be put forward regardless of whether there was rising unemployment. “They are not a knee-jerk reaction to the recession,” he said.
However, the introduction of the points-based system has already seen a reduction in the number of skilled workers from outside Europe coming to Britain from 69,000 through the old work permit route in 2008 to an estimated 50,000 this year.
The Guardian reports that more than half come on “intra-company transfers” such as Honda executives being brought from Japan to Swindon or Indian IT staff working in Britain.
The committee recommends several changes to this route, including banning access to citizenship, extending the qualifying period working with the company from six to 12 months and ensuring that the payment of allowances are not used to undercut local labour pay rates.
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