Immigration cap turning into a major headache for the government

The Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) has today published the findings of its report to the government on the recommended level for the proposed cap on skilled immigration from outside the European Union. The report demonstrates the scale of the task which the Government has set itself by committing to reduce net immigration to the tens of thousands from the current level of almost 200,000.

Alice Sachrajda is a researcher at ippr

The Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) has today published the findings of its report to the government on the recommended level for the proposed cap on skilled immigration from outside the European Union. The report demonstrates the scale of the task which the Government has set itself by committing to reduce net immigration to the tens of thousands from the current level of almost 200,000.

The MAC was not tasked with addressing the merits of the government’s policy, although they do acknowledge the high volume of submissions to their consultation on the subject – they received more than 400 written responses many of which expressed concern over restrictions on migration. Their report grapples with the formidable task of recommending how it would have to work in practice.

They state that to reach an objective of capping net migration to 50,000 (there is a wide margin of error where migration statistics are concerned and therefore the MAC suggests the government should aim for a figure lower than their target of 100,000), non-EU migration needs to fall by around 146,000 by the end of this parliament.

This has been reported by the BBC, who rightly state that this means the number of skilled migrant workers coming to Britain from outside the EU would need to be cut by between 13 per cent and 25 per cent next year. But these percentage reductions are just for 2011/12. In actual fact, in order to achieve their overall goal, the government would have to maintain reductions over the course of the next four years so as to reduce the numbers of visas issued to skilled migrants by at least 50 per cent, and potentially close to 100 per cent, by 2015.

The MAC also acknowledge that even closing all non-EU work-related migration routes altogether would still not bring net migration to the levels hoped for by the government. They state that:

“… to reach the tens of thousands, the student and family routes will have to take a substantial share of any overall reduction.”

Tackling these areas is also problematic and raises numerous questions on economic, social and human rights grounds, as ippr has written about here.

It’s fair enough for any government to show it’s listening to the public’s clear concern about high levels of net migration. But there are ways of doing that that are more sensible and less arbitrary. There’s now no shortage of people up in arms about the negative impact the cap will have on businesses both big and small, on the delivery of public services, and on the development of science and contributions to the arts.

What must have felt like an inspired election promise for the Conservatives is now turning into a major headache for the Government.

10 Responses to “Immigration cap turning into a major headache for the government”

  1. Government ‘faces immigration cap dilemma’ – Independent « twitter-1k.com

    […] govt bodyReuters UKCameron set for visa clash with universitiesFinancial TimesThis is London -Left Foot Forward -The Press Associationall 129 news […]

  2. Maria Sobolewska

    RT @leftfootfwd: Immigration cap turning into a major headache for the government: //bit.ly/bLPiLA reports @ippr's Alice Sachrajda

  3. Anthony Zacharzewski

    Turns out the tiger the Government have been riding was an immigrant //dmsc.me/9AdqNo

  4. Paul Evans

    RT @anthonyzach: Turns out the tiger the Government have been riding was an immigrant //dmsc.me/9AdqNo

  5. Shaun Seymour

    Immigration cap turning into a major headache for the government //bit.ly/bHF4CT do I see another coalition u-turn?

  6. Oxford Kevin

    Immigration will drop to the level or below their cap, because who will come to a country which has managed so successfully to screw up its economy. We’ll get a brief rather large increase as the Irish flee the basket case that is the economy that Osborne is trying to emulate as he stated that he wanted to in 2006. But after that many of us will be fleeing the UK and hoping that the doors of other countries will stay open to welcome the new economic migrants.

  7. Mr. Sensible

    This whole policy is quite a mess.

  8. Larry Gardiner

    RT @leftfootfwd: Immigration cap turning into a major headache for the government: //bit.ly/bLPiLA reports @ippr's Alice Sachrajda

  9. Migrants Rights Net

    RT @leftfootfwd: Immigration cap turning into a major headache for the government //bit.ly/cHgZN0

  10. Mutlu Ergün

    RT @migrants_rights: RT @leftfootfwd: Immigration cap turning into a major headache for the government //bit.ly/cHgZN0

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