In a move to curb legal migration, the UK government has announced a series of measures that will raise the minimum salary requirement for skilled workers and restrict family visas. These changes, which are expected to reduce net migration by 300,000 people, have been met with criticism from businesses and trade unions, who argue that they will exacerbate labor shortages and damage the economy.

What has changed?

The new rules will raise the minimum salary threshold for skilled workers from £26,200 to £38,700. This means that foreign workers will need to earn a higher wage in order to qualify for a UK visa. Additionally, foreign health workers will no longer be able to bring their family members with them on their visas.

The government has also increased the surcharge that migrants must pay to use the National Health Service (NHS) by 66%. This surcharge, which is currently £624 per year, will now rise to £1,035 per year. Finally, the government has increased the minimum income requirement for family visas. This means that spouses and children of migrants will need to meet a higher income threshold in order to join their loved ones in the UK.

The concerns

The government’s stated aim is to reduce net migration to “sustainable levels” of around 100,000 people per year. However, businesses and trade unions have expressed concerns that the new measures will have the opposite effect. They argue that the changes will make it more difficult for businesses to recruit skilled workers, leading to labor shortages and economic damage.

The Bank of England has also warned that the new measures could exacerbate skills shortages in some sectors. The Bank’s latest Monetary Policy Report stated that “persistent skills shortages remain in some sectors, such as healthcare and construction.

Trade unions have also voiced concerns about the impact of the new measures on the NHS. Christina McAnea, the general secretary of UNISON, the main union in the health sector, said that the changes would have a “devastating impact” on the NHS. “These changes will make it even more difficult to recruit and retain the skilled workers we need to provide high-quality care to patients,” she said.

The government’s plan to reduce legal migration is likely to be met with continued opposition from businesses, trade unions, and other stakeholders. The government will need to carefully consider the potential impact of these changes before implementing them.

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