We would first like to thank the Home Office for their response. We recognise that the detailed response is a testament to how seriously our concerns have been considered. However we think it is important to clarify some aspects that seem to have been overlooked by the Home Office.
In its response, the Home Office suggests that we are advocating uncontrolled migration. On the contrary, we ask for more clarity and secure safeguards on Tier 2 migration which would benefit both employers and employees.
The inflow of Tier 2 skilled workers was described by Professor Sir David Metalfe in 2011 as “unambiguously under control” and all of our research, available on the Stop35k website, testifies to this.
The Home Office’s feedback mentions social cohesion. We appreciate that this is currently a major issue for the Government, as evidenced by the new measures against Muslim women. In this climate of xenophobia, we hardly doubt that foreigners are looked at with suspicion.
However long-term settlement has been found to benefit social cohesion. People who see a future in their adopted communities will forge stronger social connections, nurture families and friends, and generally interact with the local culture. Limiting migration to short-term visas has been found to increase ‘churn’, or community turnover, which prevents people from forming lasting relationships and loyalty to the host country.
We believe that the pay threshold will not achieve the aim of the Home Office to raise domestic wages. Limited evidence has been found to support the assertion by the Home Office that migration ‘drives down wages’. Where this does occur, it is often a result of Tier 2 ‘Intra-Company Transfer’ migration, where an organisation ‘transfers’ an employee from overseas. This is not addressed by the new £35,000 pay threshold for Tier 2 General skilled workers.
The Home Office response leaves us with many unanswered questions.
Tier 2 visas are certainly only granted to those with a degree qualification but not all graduates choose their job on the grounds of financial return. The Home Office refers to companies reluctant to ‘take the long-term decision to train our workforce here at home’ while the UK Government has drastically raised tuition fees and slashed bursaries to train healthcare professionals. The Government cannot expect private companies to replace graduates when the Government refuses to. If the funding was immediately available to train a UK resident for every job left by a skilled non-EU worker being deported, it would still take a generation. During this time the £35,000 settlement threshold would only worsen the skills shortage.
The Home office describes the deportation of thousands of degree-qualified skilled workers as a ‘modest contribution’ to the Government’s target of reducing net migration. We feel that is understating the issue.
Further, this policy is not just about numbers. The third sector and social services perform a vital role in each country’s society, and a community that judges the values of its people on how much they earn misses the crucial opportunity to foster equality, creativity and entrepreneurship. It will affect real people, taxpayers, and members of our communities who are speaking up through our campaign. In light of how little their sacrifice is worth towards the Government’s overarching goal, the message conveyed by this new policy becomes even more alarming.
Ultimately the Home Office states that the policy is intended to work in the national interest. If this is the case, why have they been forced by exterior organisations to exclude key occupations from the threshold? If this policy truly worked in the national interest then industry and public services would not be in danger. This policy presents a clear risk to the economy and the British way of life.
For further details about Stop35k, see here: www.stop35k.org