Coalition Government continues to astound with gimmicky immigration policy

POSTED IN Blog 2.07.2010

Last Sunday saw Work and Pensions Minister Iain Duncan Smith suggest that the unemployed should relocate in order to find work. Then merely days later, the Home Secretary Theresa May formally announced the 24,100 target for non-EU immigration between now and April 2011. These ill-thought out policies confirm just how out of touch the new coalition Government really is when it comes to dealing with the problems facing the country today. 

On Mondays Newsnight I described the new immigration cap as a ‘bogus policy designed to placate people who don’t like immigrants’. I wholeheartedly stand by this description. The immigration cap is a farce and its effectiveness in reducing the deficit will be negligible at best.

Of the total number of people employed in the UK, 2.25million (7.84%) are from abroad with just over half of that number coming from outside of the EU. However with unemployment currently at 7.9%, a significant reduction in the 4.3% of non-EU migrant workers in work would still leave a massive unemployment gap that the Tory’s would no doubt find another scapegoat for.

Bearing in mind that we are talking about skilled workers here, the impact on businesses will be telling. Ironically enough, the big multinational firms will be initially exempt from this cap when conducting international staff transfers. This means that small and medium-sized businesses, the very people the Conservatives had previously claimed Labour had abandoned, will be hit the hardest.

Phillippe Legrain of the Guardian fantastically explains the nonsensical premise of the coalition Government’s immigration policy.

The new cap is absurd. Since less-skilled workers had already been denied legal entry by Labour’s points-based scheme, it will only keep out highly skilled workers from outside the EU – people with exceptional talents and those with skills that are in short supply in Britain. Tightening the screws on migrants who are already small in number but make an outsized contribution to the economy will damage the fragile recovery while scarcely denting overall migrant numbers…

Only the most extreme opponents of immigration object to highly paid foreign workers with valuable expertise who pay lots of tax and make little use of public services, while many of the government’s supporters in business depend on such migrants. So where is the political gain in clamping down?

It is clear to see that the Home Secretary will persevere with this policy, what remains unclear is what possible benefits will actually arise from this policy.

With some quarters claiming these plans will cost the country £45bn by 2015, I think it is time for the Government to stop pandering to anti-immigration rhetoric and instead tackle the real issues of social housing, equality and education which are affecting jobs today.

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  1. Shirley Davis says:

    I rejoined Labour last night after a few years in the disenchanted wilderness – too late for the outcome of the last General Election. On time for the next one. I wish you well Diane.