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Government expected to scrap £30,000 minimum salary threshold under new post-Brexit immigration system

Summary:

Salary to form just one element of the Government's Australian-style points-based system

Date of Publication:
23 January 2020

Government expected to scrap £30,000 minimum salary threshold under new post-Brexit immigration system

23 January 2020
EIN

The Times reported yesterday that Prime Minister Boris Johnson is set to scrap the £30,000 minimum salary threshold for migrants under plans for the new post-Brexit immigration system.

10 Downing StreetThe Guardian notes that the £30,000 threshold is currently applied to Tier 2 visas for skilled workers from non-EU countries, though it is waived in some sectors, such as the NHS.

Plans for extending the threshold to EU workers after Brexit had been favoured by Theresa May's government following recommendations made by the independent Migration Advisory Committee (MAC).

In its September 2018 report looking at EEA migration and the post-Brexit immigration system, MAC recommended: "The salary threshold at £30,000 should be retained even though we recommend expanding the list of eligible occupations. This would allow employers to hire migrants into medium-skills jobs but would also require employers to pay salaries that place greater upward pressure on earnings in the sector."

Concerns over the impact on business had, however, already led the then-Home Secretary Sajid Javid to announce a further MAC review into the threshold last June.

According to The Times, Boris Johnson set out the "key guiding principles" that would underpin the new immigration system at a Cabinet meeting this Tuesday and said there would be a reduction in the overall number of people coming to the UK once free movement ends.

The Daily Telegraph quoted Johnson's official spokesman as saying: "The Prime Minister said that the key guiding principles of the new system would be taking back control, unleashing global talent and attracting the brightest and the best, and reducing unskilled immigration."

PoliticsHome quoted the Prime Minister's spokesman as saying that the £30,000 threshold wasn't directly discussed at the Cabinet meeting, but he added: "That is something we asked MAC to do a separate piece of work on and I would expect that to be published shortly as well. I think it is worth pointing out that that obviously reflects the immigration system set out by the former government. The Prime Minister is looking at an Australian-style points-based system which is something slightly different."

The Times says that MAC will publish a report next week looking at how the new points-based system would work and the this will be followed by a Government white paper in March.

According to the Guardian, Government sources said the new points-based system would be more "nuanced" than an across-the-board salary floor. Salary will form just one element.

The Times noted that other criteria of the points-based system could include proficiency in English, educational qualifications, occupation, and willingness to work in certain regions of the UK.

The Migration Observatory at the University of Oxford has a useful explainer about the £30,000 minimum income requirement here.

Published last June, it noted: "Considering that one quarter of sponsored Tier 2 workers in 2018 were not expected to meet the £30,000 salary threshold, it is clear that policy debates that discuss this threshold as if it is a single amount are missing important detail … In other words, the current policy debate about a single '£30,000 threshold' is too simplistic. It makes more sense to think of current Tier 2 salary requirements as a set of multiple thresholds rather than a single amount."