Thank you for contacting me about the Immigration Bill and your concerns for our National Health Service (NHS) and Care sector.
I sincerely believe that the UK is one of the best countries in the world to come and live. That is why people from across the world have chosen to come here and I welcome their contribution to our society.
I also welcome the commitment of the Government to building a single, global immigration system which considers people on skills, rather than nationality. I am clear that when people voted to leave the EU, they did so in the knowledge that the free movement system imposed by the EU would end. The Government is clear that this means continued work to bring net migration down to sustainable levels while ensuring the UK continues to attract and retain those who come to the UK to work and bring significant benefits. I am glad Ministers share my view that this should not include an open door to those who do not. The future border and immigration system will support the UK economy, but also address the public’s concerns.
As the UK leaves the European Union it is essential that going forward we have a strategy for immigration that suits the UK’s needs and ensures we continue to have an open, dynamic economy and a world-class health service staffed by dedicated professionals. For that reason, the Government is looking to implement a skills-based policy that will apply to both EU and non-EU migrants equally.
As you know, the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) has suggested a salary threshold for skilled workers of £30,000. This is to ensure that migrants are making a positive contribution to the UK economy, paying into the public finances and not placing downward pressure on earnings.
Designing a comprehensive new immigration system will of course take time and consideration. That is why the Government has taken on board the MAC’s proposals, while continuing to consult employers, devolved authorities and others to determine whether the threshold is at the right level. As the White Paper released before Christmas makes clear, the Government believes there should be some flexibility where skills are in shortage.
The Government also maintains a Shortage Occupation List, which identifies occupations that are in high demand and urgently need positions filled. The Home Secretary has asked the MAC to review the Shortage Occupation List. Additionally, the MAC will provide an annual report on the status of the UK’s immigration system.
I welcome the Government’s repeated commitment that all EU nationals working in the UK will be able to remain in the country with the same rights as they enjoy today. I would like to pay tribute to the tireless work that our doctors and nurses perform, not least of all the role of those doctors and nurses who have come from overseas to provide us all with our world-leading NHS.
EU citizens are an important part of the economic, cultural and social fabric of our country and their rights needed to be secured. A new settled status scheme under UK law will be introduced for EU citizens and their family members, covered by the Withdrawal Agreement. This will ensure that EU nationals can continue to perform their vital roles across a range of sectors, in particular the health and care sector.
The latest NHS workforce statistics show that, far from the referendum result encouraging EU nationals working in the NHS to leave our country, there are over 4,300 more EU nationals working in the NHS than there were in June 2016. I would also note that the proportion of our NHS workforce made up by EU nationals has risen to 5.6 per cent, up from 3.1 per cent in 2010.
I share your concern that about making sure we have a migration policy that is right for the UK, including the NHS. For that reason, I want to assure you that the Government is open to proposals and is looking extensively at how to ensure this policy delivers. The second reading of the Bill is on 28 January and I will be following it’s progress through parliament closely, in the best interests of my Eddisbury constituents.
Thank you again for taking the time to contact me.