Migrants 'should be set a wage target of 27,000'
By Philip Johnston, Home Affairs Editor
Immigrants unable to earn more than 27,000 a year should not be allowed to settle in Britain because they do not make “a positive contribution”, a report says today.
The Migrationwatch think-tank suggests that the figure could be used to set an optimum level of immigration along the lines recently suggested by John Reid, the Home Secretary.
A research paper says that data from the Government's labour force survey show that a worker must earn 27,000 a year to make a positive lifetime contribution, whether measured by the tax paid or by the addition to GDP. It claims that only about one in five migrants reaches this salary level. The report says that immigration is of long-term benefit to the economy only if it raises productivity. Otherwise, it simply adds to the pressure on infrastructure and public services. The paper says that long-term migration should be confined to the highly skilled. Less skilled migrants can make a contribution by filling gaps while British workers are trained but should not be allowed to settle permanently.
The Government has announced plans for a points system from next year that will effectively make it impossible for low-skilled workers to settle in the country, which they can do now after four years.
Migrationwatch argues that salary levels should be a factor in making such decisions. Using that criterion, apart from those granted asylum and/or coming to Britain for family formation and reunion, only highly-skilled people who are filling a vacancy which cannot be filled by citizens of the European Economic Area and with a salary of 27,000 a year would be allowed to settle.
Other skilled migrants from outside the EU who earned a salary lower than that threshold would be allowed in only on a temporary basis to provide a short-term solution to labour market gaps while a British worker was trained. Sir Andrew Green, the chairman of Migrationwatch, said: “The Government repeatedly trots out statistics which seek to give the impression that immigration in general has a very positive effect on the economy. The reality is that immigrants are extremely varied. The social costs of the present massive levels of immigration. . . far outweigh any possible benefit.”
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