Home Secretary Theresa May to Charge Firms For Recruiting Skilled Migrants

By Joe Mellor, Deputy Editor

The Home Secretary plans to cut the influx of skilled non-EU migrants by 20 per cent a year and is planning to charge firms’ employing these people a £1,000 levy, as part of her proposal.

It is claimed the scheme could hit the teaching and nursing professions hard. The levy would be introduced per each migrant they employ from outside Europe, costing the organisation involved £1k a time.

The levy plan is part of a wider package that has been recommended by the government’s migration advisory committee (MAC). The governments’s labour market experts say there are some jobs – mainly in public sector, such as nurses, teachers and doctors – where they can undercut UK pay by up to £6,000 per annum.

Currently, 151,000 people a year are recruited in the UK from outside Europe and they have said that there should be a rise in the min salary threshold to £30,000 from the current £20,800.

The increase in the minimum salary threshold to £30,000 would particularly affect nurses. The committee recommends phasing in the changes for nurses and teachers.

In the 12 months to June last year Britain saw record number for net migration, at 336,000, prompting May’s crackdown, which led to her asking MAC to stem the flow of skilled non-EU migrants. 

A Home Office spokesman said: “We are grateful to the migration advisory committee for its report. We are considering its findings and will respond in due course.”

The MAC report says the introduction of an immigration skills charge of £1,000 a head on skilled recruitment from outside Europe could raise £250m a year for skills funding, including apprenticeships.

It is predicted the package could cut skilled migration by 27,600 from the current flow of skilled migrants from outside Europe each year.

Prof David Metcalf, the MAC chairman, said: “Skilled migrant workers make important contributions to boosting productivity and public finances, but this should be balanced against their potential impact of the welfare on existing UK residents.

“Raising the cost of employing skilled migrants via higher pay thresholds and the introduction of an immigration skills charge should lead to a greater investment in UK employees and reduce the use of migrant labour.”

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