The Labour Party has been criticised by its own members and supporters for agreeing to the government’s proposal to increase the minimum salary threshold for overseas workers from £30,000 to £36,700. The move is seen as a betrayal of the party’s values and a concession to the anti-immigration sentiment in the country.
Why did the government propose the hike?
The government claims that the hike is necessary to protect the domestic labour market and ensure that only the most skilled and qualified workers are allowed to enter the UK. The government also argues that the hike will help reduce the dependency on low-skilled workers and encourage employers to invest in training and upskilling their existing workforce.
The hike is part of the government’s new points-based immigration system, which will come into effect from January 1, 2024. Under the new system, overseas workers will have to score at least 70 points to be eligible to work in the UK. Points will be awarded based on criteria such as skills, qualifications, salary, occupation, and English language proficiency.
How did the Labour Party react?
The Labour Party, which has traditionally been in favour of a more open and inclusive immigration policy, initially opposed the hike and called for a more flexible and fair system that would take into account the needs of different sectors and regions. However, after a meeting with the Home Secretary, the Labour leader announced that the party would support the government’s proposal and abstain from voting against it in the Parliament.
The Labour leader justified the decision by saying that the party had secured some concessions from the government, such as a review of the salary threshold after a year, a lower threshold for health and social care workers, and a commitment to consult with the devolved administrations and the trade unions. The Labour leader also said that the party would continue to fight for the rights and interests of overseas workers and their families.
What are the implications of the hike?
The hike in the salary threshold will have a significant impact on the UK economy and society, as it will affect the availability and affordability of workers in various sectors and industries. According to a report by the Migration Advisory Committee, the hike will reduce the annual inflow of overseas workers by about 70,000, or 30% of the current level. This will result in a loss of about 0.4% of GDP and 0.3% of GDP per capita by 2025.
The sectors that will be most affected by the hike are those that rely heavily on low-skilled and low-paid workers, such as hospitality, retail, construction, agriculture, and health and social care. These sectors will face labour shortages, higher costs, lower productivity, and reduced quality of service. The hike will also affect the diversity and vibrancy of the UK society, as it will reduce the cultural and linguistic exchange and interaction between the UK and the rest of the world.
What are the reactions of the critics?
The critics of the hike, including many Labour MPs, members, and supporters, have expressed their disappointment and anger at the party’s decision to support the government’s proposal. They have accused the party of abandoning its principles and values, and of pandering to the populist and xenophobic agenda of the government. They have also warned that the party will lose the trust and support of its core voters, especially those from ethnic minority and migrant backgrounds.
The critics have also challenged the rationale and the evidence behind the hike, and have pointed out the flaws and loopholes in the government’s immigration system. They have argued that the hike will not protect the domestic workers, but will instead harm them by creating a two-tier labour market and undermining the collective bargaining power of the workers. They have also argued that the hike will not address the root causes of the skills gap and the low wage growth in the UK, but will instead exacerbate them by discouraging investment in education and training.
The critics have called for the Labour Party to reverse its decision and to oppose the hike in the Parliament. They have also called for the party to adopt a more progressive and humane immigration policy that would recognise the contribution and the rights of overseas workers and their families, and that would promote social and economic justice for all.