MPs have voted in favour of bill abolishing EU free movement but oppose new barriers for low-paid, critical workers.The bill takes back control of UK borders and paves the way for a new points-based immigration system.
The Immigration and Social Security Co-ordination (EU Withdrawal) Bill 2020 introduced on 5 March will have its Second Reading in the House of Commons today just 6 months since the British people voted to introduce a points-based immigration system.
This represents an important milestone in paving the way for the new immigration system that will deliver for the UK for years to come and puts an end to the European Union’s rules on free movement.
The bill signals the government’s commitment to delivering a fairer and skills led immigration system, attracting people based on the skills they have, not where they are from.
The Home Secretary, Priti Patel said: “This historic piece of legislation gives the UK full control of our immigration system for the first time in decades and the power to determine who comes to this country. Our new points-based system is firmer, fairer, and simpler. It will attract the people we need to drive our economy forward and lay the foundation for a high wage, high skill, high productivity economy.
This is a once in a generation opportunity to build a future that works for the whole of the UK and for employers to focus on upskilling and investing in the workforce this country has.
This bill gives the UK flexibility and control over its borders so it can attract top talent from around the world to complement the skills already here.
Talented doctors, nurses and paramedics from all over the world are currently playing a leading role in the NHS’s efforts to fight coronavirus and save lives and we thank them – and all our NHS staff – for the work they are doing.
Our new immigration system will make it easier and quicker for medical professionals around the world to work in the NHS through a new fast-track NHS visa.”
Responding,Danny Mortimer, co-convenor of the Cavendish Coalition and chief executive of NHS Employers, which is part of the NHS Confederation, said:
“The proposals fail to provide a route to migration for many in the social care sector, and therefore fail to provide an appropriate solution to the current social care crisis.
“Though brought to the fore through COVID-19, care workers are and always have been key workers. The applause of an appreciative nation will echo hollow if we have fewer carers to hear them.
“Care workers do not earn above the Government’s proposed £25,600 salary threshold and, despite one in 11 posts being unfilled, social care is not classed as a shortage occupation.
“One in six social care workers are foreign nationals. Despite this, there are already 122,000 vacancies in adult social care and the current epidemic in care homes from COVID-19 means that these vacancies will likely increase, with a recent survey of health and care workers finding that one in five are likely to leave their professions following the pandemic. If we do not take action now, the care sector will collapse.
“COVID-19 has also highlighted the interdependence of health and care, if social care collapses the NHS will fail to recover.
“A points-based system provides the opportunity for the UK to design an immigration system which works for society and the economy but current proposals fail to account for both in light of COVID-19.
“An immigration system which recognises the skill and value of carers, and that acknowledges them as key workers is required in the immediate term whilst a much-needed longer-term funding settlement for the sector is implemented and the fate of the UK’s labour market, economy and health is better understood. A solution is needed for a sector that is desperately fragile despite the superhuman efforts of its workforce.”