ODI Comment on UK Immigration Bill

18 May 2020

LONDON, UK (18 May 2020): Today the House of Commons debates proposed changes to UK immigration policy, in the second reading of the Immigration and Social Security Co-ordination (EU Withdrawal) Bill.

Marta Foresti, Director of ODI Europe comments: “This bill seems counter-intuitive at a time when the UK is relying on migrant key workers more than ever. So-called ‘low-skilled workers’, many of whom are migrants, are on the front line of the fight against Covid-19 and will be crucial in the recovery.

22% of NHS nurses are migrants, not to mention those working in food production and distribution, and social care workers, who, under the new law, would not qualify to live in the UK. We risk losing them at a time when we will need them most.”

Migrants contribute to the British economy and societies in many ways: evidence shows that migrants have a positive effect on the economy; with a 1% increase in the migrant share of the population creating a 2% increase in income per head. Nearly 50% of the British public thinks that migration has a positive impact on Britain, and only 27% feel negatively.

Foresti adds: “The country is united in their gratitude for these frontline workers and even Boris Johnson, upon leaving hospital after his personal encounter with the virus, praised the two migrant nurses – Jenny from New Zealand and Luis from Portugal – who cared for him. This newfound gratitude for migrant workers seems disingenuous in the light of the Immigration Bill, which will entail Jenny and Luis having to pay extra fees for accessing healthcare services in the UK.  

Rather than blocking entry to these lower paid key workers the country needs, the UK should be ensuring that we have a fair and effective immigration policy that welcomes and rewards all key workers not only those who meet the £20,480 should they have the right qualifications and skills and job offers, or £25,600 if they do not.”

To interview Marta Foresti, Director of ODI Europe at the Overseas Development Institute, on this issue, please contact Charlotte Howes at ODI on +44 7808 791 265 or at [email protected].