Former home secretary Suella Braverman
Former home secretary Suella Braverman has attacked the government’s new plans to cut legal migration – chiefly because there’s no immediate electoral gain from the crackdown.
Her successor James Cleverly on Monday announced a five-point strategy to slash net migration, which included hiking the minimum salary required for a UK skilled worker visa from around £26,000 to £38,700.
The minimum income requirement for anyone wanting to move foreign family members with them will also more than double to £38,700.
The Unison trade union called the plans “cruel” and claimed they would spell “total disaster for the NHS and social care”.
But Braverman said the package was “too late and the government can go further”.
The former cabinet minister, who claimed she had put forward similar proposals six times when she was at the Home Office, argued a fall in net migration numbers would have been seen before next year’s general election if the measures had been introduced earlier.
She suggested the impact of some of the measures would now not be seen until 2025.
If the salary threshold rise only takes effect in Spring 2024, we won’t realistically see its impact until the 2025 ONS numbers. Had this been introduced a year or even 6 months ago, we would start to see a fall in the numbers before the next General Election. 2/4
— Suella Braverman MP (@SuellaBraverman) December 4, 2023
Braverman said: “They are a step in the right direction. But we need to be honest. This package is too late and the government can go further.”
She added: “We need an annual cap, set by parliament, across all visa routes, so we don’t get into this terrible situation again and government can be properly held to account.”
Elsewhere in the proposals, overseas care workers will be banned from bringing dependents with them to the UK, while the shortage occupation list, which allows companies to hire overseas workers for 20% less than the going rate, will be scrapped.
The immigration health surcharge, paid by foreigners who use the NHS, will also be increased from £624 to £1,035, while the graduate visa route will also be reviewed amid concerns it is currently being abused.
New figures revealed two weeks ago that 672,000 more people entered the UK than left it in the 12 months to June.
The Tories’ 2019 general election manifesto pledged to bring the figure down to less than 229,000.