"Our job is to educate and train up our youth not to rely on immigration to fill the skills gaps."
David Cameron announced his new plans in a much-anticipated Immigration Speech today. He began by saying that Britain was too soft on its immigration. Harsher measures were necessary to stop migrants from taking advantage of the welfare system.
Cameron admitted that immigrants over the decades had made Britain a much stronger nation: “But we can’t allow immigration to be a substitute for training our own workforce and giving them incentives to work,” he said.
He announced that migrant welfare was a misuse of the taxpayers money. This was no longer acceptable. Over the last decade, Britain has housed 5.6 million migrants.
Some migrants stay only for short periods, with many Britons choosing to live abroad. Yet, these numbers were out of control, Cameron insisted:
“Between 1997 and 2009, net migration to Britain totalled more than 2.2 million people. That is more than twice population of Birmingham.”
Immigrants will no longer be automatically entitled to benefits on arrival. Nor will they be given social housing.
Preference will be given to local residents and nationals who are already on benefits and require housing.
Cameron announced that he wanted to put more emphasis on Britain’s youth. He insisted that more attention was needed to train and educate them on skills that would help both them and the economy:
“It is our failure in the past to reform welfare and training that has meant we have left too many of our young people in a system without proper skills or proper incentives to work…and have instead seen large numbers of people coming from overseas to fill vacancies in our economy. Put simply, our job is to educate and train up our youth…not to rely on immigration to fill the skills gaps.”
With the new measures Cameron has in mind, the following changes are expected to take place:
Benefits will only be available to those migrants who are actively seeking a job. They will able to receive benefits for a maximum of 6 months. After which, their status will be assessed and benefits cut off. Only those who have a genuine chance of getting a job will be allowed to stay on.
Migrants will also be tested on their English-speaking skills to assess whether this is prohibiting them from gaining a job.
The same rules will also apply to migrants who are working but have lost their jobs. They will also be given a 6 month period to find a new job before their benefits are also revoked:
“We’ve discovered there was a loophole that allowed migrants who no longer have a right to work here…and in some cases don’t even have the right to be here at all …to carry on claiming some benefits. We are using a power under our 2012 Welfare Reform Act to close this,” said Cameron.
Migrants therefore, would be more than welcome to stay in Britain, but they could no longer expect British taxpayers to support them.
National Health Service
Free healthcare was for nationals only, not internationals: “British taxpayers should support British families and those who contribute to our economy,” said Cameron.
“If someone visiting the UK from another EEA country uses our NHS then it is right that they or their government pay for it.”
This would mean that the NHS would be able to recover the costs of treating migrants. Costs would fall on the individual, and not British taxpayers.
Jeremy Hunt later added: “The current system of policing and enforcing the entitlement of foreign nationals to free NHS care is chaotic and often out of control. At a time when we are having to face the challenges of an ageing society, it places a significant unjustified burden on our GP surgeries and hospitals and may well impact on the standard of care received by UK citizens.”
New migrants will also no longer be entitled to housing as soon as they arrive into the country. Priority will be given to local residents already in the social housing system. Migrants will also have to complete a ‘local residence test’ detailing their value in the community.
Migrants will now also have to prove that they have lived here and contributed to the UK economy for at least two years before they can apply for housing.
Cameron also announced plans to target rogue businesses that employed illegal workers to evade tax and minimum wage laws. He said that businesses could see their fines doubled if caught:
“We will shine a light on the recruitment and employment practices of those who seek an unfair competitive advantage and deny work opportunities to UK workers,” he said.
He also said that enforcement bodies would be targeting specific sectors and regions over the summer, to uncover work abuse.
Deportation would also be much quicker for illegal workers. Legal aid would no longer be provided. Illegal immigrants would face deportation first and then have the opportunity to appeal from their home country.
Illegal immigrants would also no longer be able to hold a driving licence. They would also be denied credit cards, loans and bank accounts.
Cameron said that under these new laws, migrants would have to earn their place in British society. The nation was no longer willing to be a ‘soft-touch’. He did not want migrants coming to Britain for pay-outs. He wanted to attract hard-workers who could pro-actively contribute to the economy.
A new British Citizenship Test would ensure that only the right people were coming into the UK. Cameron said his goal was to see net immigration fall to below 100,000. Eventually he would reduce this down further to only tens of thousands each year. He added that more action was needed by the government and public sector to ensure this would happen.