Foreign workers may need private health care to work in UK
Foreign workers face having to use private health care if they want to work in the UK to ease the social pressure of immigration, the Home Secretary has signalled.
By Tom Whitehead, Home Affairs Editor
Published: 1:53PM BST 28 Jun 2010
Employers wanting to bring in migrants would have to provide them with private health insurance to avoid placing any “undue burden” on the NHS, under the proposals.
It came as Theresa May said the planned annual cap on migrants will be based on the impact they have on public services and communities as well as economic need.
The Coalition Government has pledged to bring net migration down to the “tens of thousands rather than hundreds of thousands” and a limit of foreign workers from outside the EU is a key part of that move.
The worker cap will be introduced in April next year and the Government's Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) will now consult, especially with businesses, on what that level should be.
In the meantime, a temporary, smaller cap will come in to effect on July 19 to prevent a rush of applications before the permanent level is set.
The Home Secretary acknowledged long-running concerns by local authorities that migrants impact on local services as well as jobs.
She said: “We all recognise some of the social issues about pressure on public services, pressure on schools and hospitals and also pressure on housing.
“We think it that wider range of impact that the MAC should look at when considering what the overall number should be.”
However, any final cap will not affect entrepreneurs or investors who help create jobs and wealth while elite sports stars, such as international footballers will also be exempt for any limits.
Intra-company transfers, which allow migrants to work in UK branches of their company for a fixed period and which account for almost half of new skilled migrants, may also be left out or only partially restricted.
The scheme account for 45 per cent of all skilled workers coming in to the UK since the end of 2008.
In other moves, as well as providing health insurance employers wanting foreign staff may also have to established apprenticeship schemes to demonstrate they are working to upskill British workers.
Rule changes could also oblige employers to make more effort to scour jobcentres for home-grown recruits, even in roles deemed to be among those facing a “national shortage”.
Under any future cap, ministers have indicated that they favour a “pool” system for highly skilled migrants but a first-come, first-served approach for the second tier, which is skilled workers.
Mrs May also confirmed of review of student visas will be the next action.
David Frost, director general of the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC), said: “It is essential that British businesses that require highly skilled workers are able to meet their recruitment needs. Firms should be able to employ the best possible talent to ensure the UK remains competitive.
“The stakes for the UK economy are very high. If restrictions on the entry of highly-skilled non-EU migrants are too strict, there could be damage to the economy and to future economic growth. It is absolutely essential to get the balance right.”
Alan Johnson, the shadow home secretary, said: “The announcement today is much ado about very little and simply makes minor adjustments to the rigorous points-based immigration controls that Labour introduced.
“Only one in seven potential migrants would be subject to a cap.”
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