Comment on the PM’s Conservative Conference speech


October 06, 2021

Prime Minister Boris Johnson suggests the era of uncontrolled low skilled immigration is over.

The claim has grounding with regard to EU workers but, at the wider level, it is deeply misleading as the government has also enormously widened the scope for semi-skilled labour from all over the world under the new immigration system.Indeed about half of all full time jobs are now open to foreign competition.

Specifically:

  • The previous cap has been “suspended”. There is now no annual limit on semi-skilled work permits for those from all over the world. Rules for those in 80% of the world's countries have been seriously weakened.
  • Qualification requirements were lowered from the equivalent of degree level to A level.The salary threshold has been lowered from £30,000 per year to £26,500 per year (or £20,500 for those under 26). An unlimited number of foreign students can now stay on for up to two years even if only to stack shelves, or not work at all.
  • The previous requirement that all jobs be first advertised in the UK labour market was abandoned.

Commenting, Alp Mehmet, Chairman of Migration Watch UK, said:

Mr Johnson is putting a bold face on potentially disastrous immigration policies. Immigration is neither under control nor reducing. Covid has helped to screw up immigration statistics but the public will be very angry when the truth comes out.

Note to editors

According to a briefing, the PM is telling the Conservative Conference speech today:

We are not going back to the same old broken model with low wages, low growth, low skills and low productivity, all of it enabled and assisted by uncontrolled immigration... And the answer…is not to reach for the same old lever of uncontrolled migration to keep wages low. The answer is to control immigration, to allow people of talent to come to this country but not to use immigration as an excuse for failure to invest in people, in skills and in the equipment or machinery they need to do their jobs.

There are already signs of a significant increase in skilled work permit numbers from particular countries outside the EU since the end of the Brexit transition period. For example:

"Skilled work permit"* grants to Nigerian nationals have risen over four-fold since 2018 (main applicants and dependants) from 1,700 to 7,500 (in the year to June 2021). The latter figure includes 4,000 dependants.

"Skilled work permit"* grants to Pakistani nationals have doubled since 2018 (main applicants and dependants) from 1,700 to 3,400 (in the year to June 2021). The latter figure includes 2,000 dependants.

* Skilled work permits and their pre-2021 Tier 2 / pre-PBS equivalents

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