UK should lower planned salary threshold for migrants, report says

LONDON (Reuters) – Skilled workers coming to Britain should earn at least 25,600 pounds a year, lowering the existing threshold, a government commissioned report said on Tuesday while warning the planned overhaul of the immigration system could hit economic growth.

A nurse wears a watch and stethoscope at St Thomas’ Hospital in central London January 28, 2015. REUTERS/Stefan Wermuth

With Britain leaving the European Union on Friday, the government is introducing the biggest shake-up of Britain’s border controls in decades, ending the priority given to migrants from the bloc over those from other countries.

The Migration Advisory Committee, an independent body which gives the government advice, recommended lowering a minimum general salary threshold for skilled migrants to 25,600 pounds a year from 30,000 pounds.

“Our recommendations are likely to reduce future growth of the UK population and economy compared to freedom of movement, by using skill and salary thresholds,” the MAC chairman Alan Manning said in a statement.

“No perfect system exists and there are unavoidable difficult trade-offs.”

The MAC said if the government wanted to bring in a points-based system, then it should also allow a route for skilled workers who did not have a job offer.

Teachers and healthcare workers should benefit from lower salary thresholds based on national pay scales, the report said.

Manning said the proposals would lead to a very small increase in GDP per capita and productivity, and slightly improved public finances.

But, while demands on the state-run health service, schools and housing would slightly ease, there would be increased pressures on social care which relies on lower-paid employees.

The report recommended the government makes decisions soon on Britain’s immigration system to allow companies enough time to prepare for its introduction in January 2021.

Reporting by Andrew MacAskill; editing by Michael Holden

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