Friday, July 13, 2007

UK New States Migrant Limits

From the Guardian today.

New EU states migration limit could be lifted

Ministers are to consider lifting the restrictions on Romanians and Bulgarians coming to work in Britain on the basis of evidence from the new "migration impacts forum", which starts work today.

Home Office ministers are also to ask the official advisory committee, which includes experts from local government, health, education, the police, unions and employers, to examine whether skill shortage lists should be drawn up on a regional basis and migrants encouraged to go to particular parts of the country.

Liam Byrne, the immigration minister, said the work of the forum would contribute to the introduction of the Australian-style five-tier "points-based migration system" next year, which is designed to regulate the flow of migrants. A series of "hurdles" including education qualifications and whether British workers are available to do the job will be used to ensure that only those who are needed can come to work and study in Britain.

"The points-based approach gives us the flexibility to move the 'hurdles' either up or down, depending on Britain's needs," said Mr Byrne. The options include increasing or reducing pass marks, giving more points to reward particular strengths or bringing in new criteria.

A Home Office indicative example shows that to meet a pass mark of 50 points in the tier two skilled worker category, an applicant with a university Bachelors degree would need to find a job with a £20,000-a-year salary which passes the resident labour market test, or a job in a shortage occupation. They would also have to pass an English language test.

"When we set the bar that migrants need to cross we won't just listen to business," said Mr Byrne. "We are creating the machinery for a much more open debate about where we need migration and where we don't - but based on evidence, not anecdote. To have a proper debate we need proper evidence."

One of the first tasks facing the migration impacts forum will be assessing the effects of the arrival of 8,000 Romanians and Bulgarians in the first three months of this year after their countries joined the EU in January. Ministers will decide later this year whether the transitional restrictions imposed on them should be lifted. They included a quota of 30,000 for unskilled workers from the two countries and limits on the number of work permits for those with qualifications.

The forum will also look at the impact of recent migration on community tensions in Britain before starting on separate studies of the impact on health and social care, education, employment and skills, housing and finally crime and disorder.

The forum is chaired by Mr Byrne and Phil Woolas, the communities minister. A second expert organisation, the Migration Advisory Committee, made up of labour market economists, is to be set up by next April and will be asked to draw up the official list of shortage occupations and entry schemes for low-skilled workers.

No comments: