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Labour pledges to end over-reliance on migrant workers by linking immigration to skills and to set up new Border Security Command to tackle small boats


Manifesto promises to restore order to asylum system and reform the points-based immigration system

Date of Publication:

Today saw the launch of the Labour Party's election manifesto.

Labour Party logoOpinion polls continue to suggest that Labour are heading for a sizeable majority at next month's general election, making this the most significant manifesto launch of the week. The pledges on immigration and asylum outlined in the manifesto are likely to form the policies of the next government.

The manifesto has separate sections on asylum and on the immigration system.

A central pledge is to set up a new Border Security Command to tackle the organised, criminal gangs who are behind the small boats crossing the Channel. Labour says this contrasts to the 'gimmick' of the Conservatives' Rwanda policy.

Labour pledges to restore order to the asylum system to make it operate "swiftly, firmly, and fairly". Additional Home Office caseworkers will be hired to clear the asylum backlog.

A new returns and enforcement unit will be set up with 1,000 additional staff to fast-track the removals of migrants with no right to stay in the UK. The number of countries considered to be safe for returns will be increased.

On work-related immigration, Labour pledges to reduce net migration and says the Conservatives created an economy that is overly dependent on migrant workers to fill skills shortages.

The manifesto pledges to reform the points-based immigration system so that it is fair and properly managed, with appropriate restrictions on visas.

Labour promises to end the reliance on migrant workers in some parts of the economy by linking immigration to skills and bringing in new workforce and training plans.

"The days of a sector languishing endlessly on immigration shortage lists with no action to train up workers will come to an end," the manifesto says.

The sections on asylum and immigration from the Labour manifesto are reproduced below:


Labour Party Manifesto 2024


Secure borders

Britain is a tolerant and compassionate country. We have a proud tradition of welcoming people fleeing persecution and abuse. Schemes like Homes for Ukraine, Hong Kong humanitarian visas, and the Syrian resettlement programme have provided important routes for refugees seeking sanctuary. But the system needs to be controlled and managed and we need strong borders. The small boats crisis, fuelled by dangerous criminal smuggler gangs, is undermining our security and costing lives.

Rather than a serious plan to confront this crisis, the Conservatives have offered nothing but desperate gimmicks. Their flagship policy – to fly a tiny number of asylum seekers to Rwanda – has already cost hundreds of millions of pounds. Even if it got off the ground, this scheme can only address fewer than one per cent of the asylum seekers arriving. It cannot work. Chaos in the Channel has been matched by chaos at home. The Conservatives' unworkable laws have created a 'perma-backlog' of tens of thousands of asylum seekers, who are indefinitely staying in hotels costing the taxpayer millions of pounds every week.

Labour will stop the chaos and go after the criminal gangs who trade in driving this crisis. We will create a new Border Security Command, with hundreds of new investigators, intelligence officers, and cross-border police officers. This will be funded by ending the wasteful Migration and Economic Development partnership with Rwanda. This new Command will work internationally and be supported by new counter-terrorism style powers, to pursue, disrupt, and arrest those responsible for the vile trade. We will seek a new security agreement with the EU to ensure access to real-time intelligence and enable our policing teams to lead joint investigations with their European counterparts.

Labour will turn the page and restore order to the asylum system so that it operates swiftly, firmly, and fairly; and the rules are properly enforced. We will hire additional caseworkers to clear the Conservatives' backlog and end asylum hotels, saving the taxpayer billions of pounds.

Labour will set up a new returns and enforcement unit, with an additional 1,000 staff, to fast-track removals to safe countries for people who do not have the right to stay here. We will negotiate additional returns arrangements to speed up returns and increase the number of safe countries that failed asylum seekers can swiftly be sent back to. And we will also act upstream, working with international partners to address the humanitarian crises which lead people to flee their homes, and to strengthen support for refugees in their home region.


A fair and properly managed immigration system

People who have come to the UK to work make a substantial contribution to our economy, our public services, and our communities.

But under the Conservatives, our economy has become overly dependent on workers from abroad to fill skills shortages. As a result, we have seen net migration reach record highs; more than triple the level than at the last election in 2019. The overall level must be properly controlled and managed. Failure to do so reduces the incentives for businesses to train locally. So, Labour will reduce net migration.

We will reform the points-based immigration system so that it is fair and properly managed, with appropriate restrictions on visas, and by linking immigration and skills policy. Labour will not tolerate employers or recruitment agencies abusing the visa system. And we will not stand for breaches of employment law. Employers who flout the rules will be barred from hiring workers from abroad.

Conservative policy is incoherent, with decisions on migration, skills and sectoral pay determined in isolation. Labour will bring joined-up thinking, ensuring that migration to address skills shortages triggers a plan to upskill workers and improve working conditions in the UK. We will strengthen the Migration Advisory Committee, and establish a framework for joint working with skills bodies across the UK, the Industrial Strategy Council and the Department for Work and Pensions. We will end the long-term reliance on overseas workers in some parts of the economy by bringing in workforce and training plans for sectors such as health and social care, and construction.

The days of a sector languishing endlessly on immigration shortage lists with no action to train up workers will come to an end.