The government should reduce the salary threshold for immigrants by more than £4,000, a committee has advised.
Skilled migrants from outside the EU are currently required to have a job offer with a minimum salary of £30,000, however, the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) said it should fall to £25,600 for all workers to prevent staff shortages in certain sectors.
The Migration Advisory Committee’s long-awaited review said the current Tier 1 visa “does not work well”.
“The skills bar for entry is set too high, targeted at those at the very top of their field, and is too risk averse,” the report published today (January 28) says. “The numbers admitted fall far short of the cap.”
Instead, the government should create system whereby migrants who score highly on a points system are pooled, from which there is a monthly draw, with a cap on the total number admitted each month.
The committee criticised the UK’s current convoluted immigration system where EU workers can come in without a job offer or a particular skill under freedom of movement rules, while people from the rest of the world must seek one of several different visas.
It said the UK’s post-Brexit system should allow entry to workers from all over the world with skills that are in demand, but also take into account many of them would not earn enough to meet the current salary test.
The report said: “Many stakeholders would prefer there to be no salary thresholds beyond the minimum wage.”
But the committee believed the threshold stopped the undercutting of the labour market, ensured migrants made a net positive contribution to the public finances, and made sure migration policy supported the “ambition to make the UK a high wage, high skill, high productivity economy”.
The MAC said its proposals would benefit the UK economy, but warned there could be a rise in pressures in social care because of a shortage of low-skilled workers.
“We remain concerned about the situation in social care, but the root cause of the problems there is the failure to offer competitive terms and conditions,” said the report.