UK panel wants salary level for workers visa reduced

Aditi Khanna, London
Published : 23:56, Jan 28, 2020 | Updated : 23:57, Jan 28, 2020

An independent review panel of experts instructed by the UK government to study how a new post-Brexit visa and immigration system could work has called for a cut in the minimum salary level required by skilled workers applying for visas to the country.UK Visa (Representational image)
The Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) called for the current salary level of £30,000 on such workers, which would include workers from Bangladesh, to be cut down to £25,600 to bring it in line with pay levels in specific occupations. This move is likely to be welcomed by the Bangladeshi curry industry, which has always sought lower salary thresholds in order to be able to bring in talented chefs from the subcontinent.
In its research-based report, which is expected to form the blueprint for a new system once the European Union (EU) freedom of movement rules cease to apply to the UK as a non-member, MAC also cautions Prime Minister Boris Johnson against implementing a full-fledged Australian-style points-based system as he has repeatedly pledged. Instead, it proposes a more hybrid system where a minimum salary threshold would apply for applicants coming to the UK with a job offer, and a points-based system for those coming to the UK without a pre-arranged job.
“The current packaging as a PBS [points-based system] is, forgive the pun, pointless and could be eliminated,” notes Professor Alan Manning, chair of the committee, as he warns of reduced economic growth under a future full-fledged points-based system.
“There are trade-offs and no perfect system exists… The government should ensure that the mistakes of previous UK points-based systems are not repeated,” he said.
The Committee says that the changes it has recommended will very slightly increase GDP per capita, productivity and improve public finances. Its proposed changes are also expected to reduce pressures on the state-funded National Health Service (NHS), schools and on social housing, though they will increase pressure on social care.
The government is not obliged to accept all the recommendations but the MAC report is likely to form the basis of the new visa regime to be put in place for once the UK has formally left the EU later this week.
“The government will introduce a firmer and fairer points-based immigration system from 2021 that welcomes talent from around the world while reducing low-skilled migrants and bringing overall numbers down. We will carefully consider the report before setting out further details on the new system,” a Downing Street spokesperson said.