Last week, Prime Minister David Cameron gave a speech at the Home Office on Immigration. In this speech he revealed that he would continue to uphold his policy on reducing net migration to below 100,000. This is all despite the fact that net migration actually rose by 50% in 2014, from the previous year, to 318,000.
It was also revealed that the number of people who immigrated for work purposes in 2014 had increased by 70,000 (to 284,000) and that EU migration from January to March 2015 was 283,000 – higher than the previous year. In fact, the number of EU nationals was taken up by 46,000 Romanians and Bulgarians.
Despite progress to the contrary, the PM maintained in his speech that he would not abandon his target and stated that it was due to being in coalition government that had stayed this goal. The Conservative government have unveiled fresh plans to reduce the amount of immigration further, without hindrance from the Liberal Democrats.
These plans include curbing illegal working by making it an offence to work illegally in the UK. The Conservative government also intends to seize earnings made from illegal employment as they will be considered proceeds of crime. This is intended to act as a deterrent from working without the appropriate visa, which should encourage migrants to either apply for the correct visa or to not enter the UK and remain illegally, or else to exit the UK if they are here working illegally.
Further plans to reduce immigration include measures allowing local councils to evict illegal migrants more quickly. It will also become an offence for businesses and recruitment agencies to hire abroad without first advertising in the UK.
Another plan to cut down the numbers of migrants is to deport persons whose leave to remain applications have been refused prior to their appeal hearing. This measure is intended to ensure that the only people who are within the UK are those whose applications have been approved by the Home Office. Furthermore, the Home Office plans to tag all foreign criminals awaiting deportation with satellite tracking devices. These policies raise Article 8 ECHR issues regarding family and private life and may result in increased litigation on alternative grounds.
There are also plans to reduce EU migration by minimising migrants’ rights to claim benefits in the UK. These plans include a four-year delay for EU migrants wishing to claim in-work benefits such as tax credits and gain access to social housing; removing migrants from the UK after six months if they have not found work; and stopping EU jobseekers claiming Universal Credit.
Following this speech, it was also announced this week that there would be a consultation on a potential levy to be placed on businesses that employ overseas workers.
If you are concerned about the effect that these new policies may have on you, please do not hesitate to get in touch with us.