News & Insights

UK election – a focus on immigration

Immigration is an important issue to UK voters – Imelda Reddington examines the policy positions of Labour and the Conservatives ahead of the General Election in July.

With immigration purported to be the third most important topic to UK voters, we have examined how the two main parties intend to address this key issue.

Labour has pledged to reduce the UK’s reliance on overseas workers, address home-grown skills shortages and ensure that workers are rewarded with decent wages and working conditions.

Labour supports a points-based immigration system, provided it works for both workers and businesses.

As part of the reforms to the current system, Labour will:

  1. Introduce training plans and requirements for key occupations (these have not been described). They will also look for fair pay agreements for adult social care workers.
  2. Reform the apprenticeship levy to support upskilling the national workforce and focus on developing skills in key shortage areas including construction, IT and engineering.
  3. Limit access to the immigration system for rogue employers and implement stronger visa penalties for those employers who flout labour and minimum wage laws.
  4. Reform the Migration Advisory Committee to link it to the relevant skills bodies.

Whilst Labour makes these promises, the details are missing.  It remains to be seen whether they will reverse any of the changes the Conservatives introduced this year.

The Conservatives also want to reduce net migration and will continue with the numerous measures across family and working visa routes already implemented earlier in the year, including the Rwanda Policy to remove asylum seekers.

As part of their election campaign, the Conservatives propose to introduce an annual ‘cap’ on the number of visas issued in work and family visa routes, excluding temporary and agricultural workers.

They will retain the ban on overseas students and care workers bringing family members to the UK, with Labour agreeing to keep these polices too. However, the Conservatives have also vowed to crackdown on universities who accept international students and rogue recruitment agencies who promote routes to the UK.

Whilst both sides want to ‘Stop the Boats’, Labour intends to abolish the Rwanda policy and instead invest the estimated £2m spend on enforcement activity and a crackdown on the criminals responsible for people smuggling.

Conservatives will keep the Rwanda policy despite the numbers entering the UK illegally remaining high. They have increased cooperation with France to intercept small boats before they reach British waters and have signed an agreement with the EU to deal with smuggler gangs.  There does not appear to be a reduction in the cost of asylum support with costs expected to be in the region of £3.1bn on hotels alone up to March 2024.

The net migration figures stand at an all-time high in the UK, however, the Migration Advisory Committee have indicated a sharp decline in visa applications this year, particularly for care workers.  Our care provider clients are seeing a reduction in the number of certificates allocated, which would generally reflect the number of visa applications. It is possible that the Government may be deliberately constricting the allocation of certificates for certain sectors, perhaps in an attempt to bring down immigration figures in advance of the General Election in July.

If you are impacted by the proposed policies or wish to discuss any aspects of you immigration needs, please get in touch for a no obligation discussion at [email protected]