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July 2012 Volume 19 Number 3
UK: Reducing Migration
The current coalition government elected in 2012 pledged to reduce net migration from hundreds of thousands to tens of thousands by 2015. However, in the year ending in September 2011, net migration was 252,000, down by only 3,000 from the year before.<< back
In response to recession and abuse, the UK government reduced the number of Tier 1 immigrant visas for entrepreneurs, investors and the exceptionally talented to 1,000 in 2012, down from 13,000 in 2010. However, the number of Tier 2 visas for foreign student graduates of UK universities, foreigners requested by UK employers, and foreigners entering to fill jobs in occupations on a shortage list was increased to 20,700 in 2012 in part to compensate for reductions in Tier 1. In response to business protests, intra-company transfers earning more than œ40,000 and transferred from a foreign subsidiary to a UK branch of the same firms are exempt from the cap.
Tier 3 for low-skilled seasonal workers from outside the EU has not been implemented, meaning that the major route of entry for foreigners who also work is Tier 4 for students. Efforts to reduce the entry of foreign students prompted protests from universities that depend on the fees they pay.
Labor Party leader Ed Miliband in June 2012 said that his party had allowed "too many" Eastern European migrant workers to enter the UK after 2004 and was too quick to dismiss concerns about migrants as "prejudice." In 2007, then PM Gordon Brown promised "British jobs for British workers," a promise he could not keep because EU nationals are free to move within the EU and seek jobs on an equal basis with natives. During the 2010 campaign, Brown called a pensioner a "bigot" after she complained of too many foreigners.
Former Labour Home Office minister John Denham said that the government relied on estimates that 15,000 migrants would move to the UK if Eastern Europeans could enter freely to seek jobs after their entry into the EU in May 2004. In fact, over 500,000 arrived. Denham said that if Labor is re-elected, it would enforce minimum wage laws strictly, check on recruitment agencies that supply only workers from particular countries, and examine areas and types of jobs where there were large numbers of foreign workers, including conducting audits of firms that have 25 percent or more foreign workers.
Impacts. The Migration Advisory Committee released a report in January 2012 that concluded that the arrival of 700,000 non-EU migrants between 2005 and 2010 was associated with the employment of 160,000 fewer Britons, that is, four non-EU migrants resulted in one fewer British worker being employed.
Many British employers say they prefer migrants to British workers, especially British youth (a million Britons 16 to 24 are jobless). The National Farmers' Union reported that there were 12,000 migrant farm workers filling seasonal jobs in the East Midlands in 2009 and 2,300 British workers, that is, a six to one migrant-British ratio. The NFU said that British workers lack "three key things: ? work ethic in terms of poor time-keeping and shoddy workmanship, a lack of enthusiasm, and a disengagement with the work itself."
Alasdair Palmer, "All over Europe, immigration is moving in from the political fringes," Telegraph, June 23, 2012.