By ARUN SRIVASTAVA :
It is absolutely clear that Boris’ immigration plan, which aims to move away from relying on influxes of cheap labour by closing Britain’s borders to “non-skilled” workers, is based on a flawed understanding of how the economy works. It reveals the risks of privileging ideology over economics, the hallmark of Conservative governments since the 1970s.
THE UK’s “sky-high” visa fees could deter vital NHS staff and the “brightest and best” scientists that Boris Johnson wants to attract with his new immigration policy. The tech experts who till recently flocked to the UK from the EU may not be able to afford to do so if Boris Johnson’s proposed immigration overhaul, as being supposed to be implemented by Priti Patel becomes law.
The Government announced on Tuesday it was closing British borders to unskilled migrants who do not speak English and scrapping the cap on skilled migrants, marking the biggest shakeup of immigration laws for 40 years. It means EU citizens seeking to work in the UK after January 2021 must also pay a minimum of £1,620 for the visa and the £400 health charge for one year. Roberts said the fees could be a barrier to many on an entry-level salary of between £20,480 and £25,000. “It’s a question of whether the Government wants to attract the ‘best and the brightest’ or just those with the deepest pockets,” she said. “The fees are incredibly high and could be a big deterrent, especially for those who are looking at a range of countries such as Germany, the Netherlands, Luxembourg to relocate to.
Data from the Office for National Statistics shows many key occupations pay between £25,600 – the proposed salary threshold for entry to the UK – and £30,000, including teachers, science technicians and chemical process operatives. The immigration policy will place greater burdens on employers who rely on EU staff.
They they will now incur visa fees, just as workers from third countries do. From January, this will include a skills-charge fee of £1,000 per person, an employer visa fee of £610 for a visa up to three years, as well as £1,220 for a visa of more than three years, along with a £199 certificate of sponsorship. It is absolutely clear that Boris’ immigration plan, which aims to move away from relying on influxes of cheap labour by closing Britain’s borders to “non-skilled” workers, is based on a flawed understanding of how the economy works. It reveals the risks of privileging ideology over economics, the hallmark of Conservative governments since the 1970s. This move of Boris also brings in question the administrative and political skill of Priti Patel and also the new Chancellor.
The Government has come out with ridiculous and strange argument that by deliberately creating shortages of workers, wages will rise as firms compete for scarce labour. They also argue that it will provide an incentive for firms to upskill their workers and to substitute more labour for capital, thus raising productivity. In a way the Boris Government intends to tell the companies to act more like training institute rather than boosting the productivity and compete in the international market. There is no denying the fact that this would put the industry and business in a precarious situation. Britain which has already been facing economic challenges will systematically move towards slowdown.
The argument of Patel and Boris Government are in stark contrast to traditional economic orthodoxy that productivity has to rise so that wages will follow. Higher wages would be good for workers and their families and for the economy as a whole. But the Tories’ plan is wrongheaded. Here’s why. This approach of the Government completely ignores the realities of the modern labour market. The problem is not the intensity of competition between workers for jobs, but the excessive power of employers and the weak position of workers in Britain.
It is a known fact that a few large firms dominate the local labour market. Employers such as supermarkets, distribution centres and hospitality businesses are able to get away with paying the minimum wage, since there are few alternatives for workers. Changing the immigration rules will not help the workers as they will have little choice but to accept the pay offered by excessively powerful businesses. What a paradox the idea is being floated by Conservative leaders who have tried to systematically weaken the labour force.
It is an open sector that constant attacks on trade unions by successive Conservative governments, the unions have been weakened and lost much of their collective power to effectively confront employers and force them to accede to the workers’ demands. The Tory governments have eroded the employment rights of the workers. Immigration rules will further aggravate the situation. It appears taking a cue from his friend Donald Trump, the new Prime Minister of UK Boris Johnson is impressing upon the companies to reach out to “economically inactive” Britons and pull them into new jobs, thereby increasing overall economic output. This ignores that Britain is at near-full employment.
After 10 years of austerity and a cruel and callous benefits system, Priti Patel’s claim that there are around 8 million workers that could enter the labour market is at best wishful thinking and at worst downright unreliable. Yet another factor that has to be borne in mind is free market tenet has seen Britain deindustrialise at a faster rate and to a greater degree than any other advanced economies. Britain stands alone in the G7 group of industrialised economies as the only country where manufacturing is less than 10% of the economy. Britain is a rapidly ageing society, with ever-increasing demands for health and social care and greater pension liabilities.
The Government through its social welfare programme has made the Britons lose interest in working. They do not want to work as their needs are fulfilled by the Government social funding. It is an open secret that Social care is crumbling, and Johnson’s immigration plans will only make it worse. (IPA)