The migration advisory committee report is a major antidote to dog-whistle politics, bringing much-needed facts about the impact of immigration into the national conversation.
The 140-page report, commissioned by the former home secretary Amber Rudd, will put paid to the notion that European Economic Area (EEA) migrants drive wages down, lead to an increase in crime, bleed the social welfare system dry and steal the jobs of Britons.
But it recommends no preferential treatment for EU citizens after Brexit and retaining a salary threshold of £30,000 for migrants – which will alarm those in manufacturing, logistics and social care, where there is a high reliance on EU workers.
The main findings are:
European citizens should not be given preferential treatment post-Brexit.
Remove the cap on tier-2 visas for general skilled workers.
Retain the salary threshold of £30,000.
Favour higher-skilled workers over lower-skilled workers post-Brexit.
No special scheme for low-skilled workers, with the exception of agricultural workers.
Overall impact of migration from European Economic Area
The overall impact is “small in magnitude when set against other changes”.
“Migrants have no or little impact” on the employment or unemployment outcomes of the UK-born workforce.
The fall of the pound after the referendum has had a “larger impact” on wages and employment opportunities.
Migration does not force down wages. There is some evidence that it does in lower-skilled areas, but the impact is small.
There is little or no impact on employment, wages or training.
Provision of public services
EU migrants are critical in care homes and social care, and there are concerns that the UK will struggle to find people to work in the sector, where demand is rising inexorably. There is an underlying problem of poor terms and conditions.
A new policy is needed to stop illegal migration from Ireland.
No solutions are offered.
Dealing with the issue would require a bespoke scheme for the region or a different scheme for the whole of the UK, “neither of which is attractive”.
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