David Cameron is clamping down on immigration.
The prime minister has written a piece in today’s Telegraph outlining new measures that the government hopes will bring it closer to its target of reducing migration to below 100,000 by the next election. Net migration is still more than 200,000 people per year at the moment.
(The PM is also, no doubt, hoping these changes will give the Tories a stronger standing among those immigration-suspicious voters who might be otherwise vote for UKIP in May 2015.)
Here’s what you need to know – all the key measures, in brief:
1. Halving the time people can claim benefits without work
EU immigrants have thus far been entitled to Jobseeker’s Allowance and child benefit for a maximum of six months if they didn’t have clear job prospects. From today, that period has been reduced to three months.
2. Criminals: “Deport first, appeal later”
From this week, foreign criminals who are in this country illegally will be deported first, and their appeals heard from their home countries. The government will make it easier to deport criminals where there is no risk of harm to them in their home country.
3. Curbing the right to a family life
Article Eight of the European Convention on Human Rights states the right to a family life. But Cameron writes that “too many judges have treated this as an unqualified right”. The law has now been re-written so that judges must balance Article Eight with “the British public interest”.
It is not entirely clear from Cameron’s article whether this is in respect just to criminals or to all illegal immigrants – it is quite cleverly worded so as to leave it ambiguous while seeming to refer to foreign criminals:
We are also addressing the abuse of Article Eight of the European Convention on Human Rights – the right to a family life. Too many judges have treated this as an unqualified right. So we have written very clearly into the law that when weighing up these cases, judges must also consider the British public interest too. As far as this Government is concerned, the rights of law-abiding citizens come well above the rights of criminals.
4. All UK jobs must be advertised in the UK
From now on, all jobs based in the UK must be advertised in the UK in English. This is to stop recruitment agencies advertising UK jobs only in other countries (i.e. not advertising them in the UK at all), which has been happening. Along the same vein, the government is aiming to reduce the number of Jobcentre Plus jobs advertised on the EU-wide jobs portal by 500,000. Up until now, all Jobcentre Plus jobs posted have been advertised on this portal.
5. Housing and landlords
From November, landlords will have a legal obligation to check whether their tenants are legally allowed in the country.
6. Targeting “bogus colleges”
There has been a problem with “bogus colleges” that were set up to allow foreign people to get student visas, the PM writes. The government has shut down 750 of the colleges so far. From now on, all colleges will lose their licence if 10% or more of the students they recruit are refused visas.
7. Bank accounts
Illegal immigrants will be banned from opening bank accounts from December. There are also likely to be measures on driving licences, as Cameron writes that “it was absurd that those who were here illegally could get a licence to drive a car, or rent a flat, or have a bank account”.
This is what Cameron believes all this will achieve:
Taken together, this is about building a different kind of Britain – a country that is not a soft touch, but a place to play your part, a nation where those who work hard can get on. Carefully and painstakingly, we are building an economy that has real opportunities for our young people; an education system that encourages them to do their best; a welfare system that encourages work; and an immigration system that puts Britain first.
What do you think of these measures? Let me know @sophiehobson and in comments below