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  • Writer's pictureChristopher Dias

All Change? what immigration policy can we expect from Labour...

In the run-up to the election, Labour's stance on immigration was clear: reduce migration while protecting UK jobs and cracking down on exploitation. However, with their strong majority, Labour is not beholden to voter pressure or other parties, allowing potential for a more ambitious immigration overhaul.

Realistic Expectations

While Labour has the freedom to craft their policies, they aim to be seen as effective in their pledges. Here's a breakdown of key elements and what they might mean in practice:

Reducing Reliance on Overseas Workers:

Labour plans to boost domestic skills training to address labor shortages, reducing the need for international recruitment. This includes identifying skills shortages and banning overseas hiring for non-compliant employers.

Reforming the Points-Based System:

The Migration Advisory Committee will work with government agencies to ensure a cohesive approach to skill development and immigration.

Tackling Illegal Migration:

A new Border Security Command will be established to combat human trafficking and illegal crossings, with enhanced cooperation with European countries and increased use of intelligence and enforcement resources.

Asylum System Overhaul:

Labour aims to clear the asylum backlog, end hotel use, and implement new resettlement routes to protect vulnerable individuals from exploitation.

Collaboration with France and Other Countries:

New agreements on returns and family reunion will be established to streamline the process and ensure humanitarian crises are addressed at their source.

Skilled and Seasonal Workers

Labour has indicated no formal caps on work routes and skilled worker visas but emphasizes appropriate visa restrictions and enforcement against non-compliant employers. They plan to address shortages in key areas like construction and engineering while ensuring fair treatment of migrant workers.

Labour's Challenge

Labour's strong majority gives them the opportunity to be bold in their immigration policies. However, they must balance their ambition with the need to appear effective in protecting the UK workforce, cracking down on exploitative employers, and keeping the UK open for business. The future of Labour's immigration policy will likely reflect a careful navigation between ambitious reform and pragmatic governance. For employers who follow the rules and treat migrant workers fairly, there is nothing to fear from these measures.

A critical challenge lies in balancing the need to keep the UK open for business while addressing skill shortages. Training and reskilling the UK's workforce is a lengthy process, and immediate labor needs will necessitate recruiting from outside the UK. This dual approach will be essential to ensure economic stability and growth during the transition, and it is hoped that the approach to employers will not be too heavy handed and will treat the majority of employers who sponsor workers with respect and a realisation that a mobile, agile workforce is essential for the UK to succeed in today's world.

Ambitious Proposals for a Fairer System

While Labour's current proposals are promising, there are areas where, given their majority, they could in this writer's opinion be more ambitious:

Overseas Domestic Workers: Reintroducing the right for overseas domestic workers to change employers within the UK, renew their visas, and eventually settle, would protect these workers from exploitation.

Employment Tribunal Rights: Making employment tribunal rights truly accessible to migrant workers by allowing them to remain in the UK while pursuing claims, and extending the time to find a new employer beyond 60 days, would ensure fair treatment.

Immigration Health Surcharge: Reducing the burden of the immigration health surcharge, currently £1,035 per year, especially for families, would alleviate financial stress and demonstrate a commitment to supporting all workers in the UK.

Innovator visa: Make this visa easier to obtain for foreign entrepreneurs and graduates wishing to set up a business in the UK. This fits with the goal of kickstarting the growth of the economy.

Only time will tell what the realities of a Labour Government bring, but for now this writer can hope that a new red dawn will invigorate the immigration landscape for both employers and employees.


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