New immigration system ‘won’t meet population’s health and care needs’

Home Secretary Priti Patel has announced a new points-based immigration system.

A spokesman for the Home Office said the system, which will take effect from January 1 2021, will assign points for specific skills, qualifications, salaries or professions.

Visas will only be awarded to those who gain 70 points, a move which the home secretary says will ‘end the reliance on cheap, low-skilled labour coming into the country’.

However, the Royal College of Nursing says the system will not meet the health and care needs of the population as it ‘closes the door to lower-paid healthcare support workers and care assistants from overseas’, who it says currently fill significant numbers of posts in the health and care workforce.

A Home Office spokesman people from overseas who wish to work in the UK will have to speak English and have the offer of a skilled job with an ‘approved sponsor’, for which they would be awarded 50 points.

Further points will also be awarded for qualifications and working in a sector with shortages. All applicants will be required to earn a minimum salary of £25,600.

The spokesman said there will be no specific route for low-skilled workers and has estimated that 70% of the existing EU workforce would not meet the requirements of the skilled worker route.

Dame Donna Kinnair, chief executive and general secretary of the Royal College Nursing said: ‘We are concerned that these proposals from the government will not meet the health and care needs of the population.

‘They close the door to lower-paid healthcare support workers and care assistants from overseas, who currently fill significant numbers of posts in the health and care workforce.

‘While recruitment of overseas staff shouldn’t be used as a replacement for domestic workforce supply, it’s clear that it will need to continue in the short to medium-term so that health and social care services in the UK can continue to function.

‘We are clear that maintaining arbitrary salary thresholds will not enable health and social care services in the UK to recruit and retain the number of staff needed to meet the needs of the UK’s population.

‘We are also very disappointed to see the Immigration Health Surcharge of £400 a year for overseas staff remain in place.

‘Nursing staff from abroad, whom we want to attract to the UK, already pay for the NHS through their taxes and should not have to pay this extra charge, which applies whether or not they access services.’

The Home Office said student visa routes will also be points-based and be opened up to EU citizens, those wishing to study in the UK will need to demonstrate that they have an offer from an approved educational institution, that they can support themselves financially and that they speak English.

In addition, the seasonal workers pilot will also be expanded in time for the 2020 harvest from 2,500 to 10,000 places, responding to the specific temporary requirements of the agricultural sector.

Home Secretary Priti Patel said: ‘Today is a historic moment for the whole country.

‘We’re ending free movement, taking back control of our borders and delivering on the people’s priorities by introducing a new UK points-based immigration system, which will bring overall migration numbers down.

‘We will attract the brightest and the best from around the globe, boosting the economy and our communities, and unleash this country’s full potential.’

Photo Credit – Pixabay

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