Settlement consultation – when being ‘good’ isn’t good enough, only the ‘brightest and the best’ can hope to stay….

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Bt Don Flynn (MRN)

The starting gun has been fired, and another race is being run to provide Her Majesty’s Government with expert advice on matters on which they have already made up their minds. This time it’s about the best way to expel migrant workers who have made first rate contributions to the prosperity and well-being of the country. Sounds mad, but it’s true…..

Employment –related settlement, Tier 5 and Overseas Domestic Workers – a Consultation is the rather unenticing title of the latest paper setting out the views of the UKBA on how it can fulfil the mission of ministers to rid the immigration control system of anything that resembles a fairly decent deal for migrants.

The gist of their argument is that evidence of performance in a skilled occupation for a period of five full years for an employer who has been required to meet a tough standard of proof that they really need you to do the job for them just isn’t enough to show that you have made a decent contribution to UK plc. Grind away for long hours, innovate, organise and produce, if your reward isn’t in the region of £150,000 a year then your number is up.

To reduce the themes of this consultation to their bare bones, the government has launched this consultation to take advice from all and sundry on how to:

Define the differences between temporary migration, where the person is expected to leave the country after a set time, and permanent, where they will be allowed to settle.
Set the bar for what constitutes the ‘brightest and the best’ amongst the migrant population.
Impose an English language requirement on the dependent family members of the small number of migrants who are potentially able to apply for settlement.
Wind-up all the protection currently given in the immigration rules to migrant domestic workers and organisation their expulsion from the country after a limited period of permitted residence.
In addition they are proposing to limit the maximum period of stay currently allowed for people in the Tier 5 categories – mainly those on various youth exchange programmes – down to no more than 12 months.

Why would a government want to take actions of this sort against a group of people who are as far away from any notion of a burden on the country as you can possible imagine? After all, the Tier 2 migrants and domestic workers who are copping it the neck cannot be dismissed as people who were given a chance to prove their worth but then blew it by, in the language of the Home Office, becoming a charge on public funds. The people who get settled status in these categories are precisely those who have had their shoulders to the wheel for all of the five years they were permitted to enter and, presumably, are considered to be of some value to their employers.

They pay taxes, and they haven’t received any of the benefits on the long list of public funds the government has made forbidden. Some will have been promoted within their companies and acquired positions of considerable responsibility, even if they aren’t earning the magic £150K which the government believes is a measure of their real worth to the UK.

After five years many will feel that the UK begins to feel a lot like their true homes. Children will have been born and raised for a significant part of their childhood years in this country, Friendships will have been formed, commitments made to support the quality of life in local communities through parent teacher associations, neighbourhood groups or religious faith communities. No matter! The government says they are not amongst ‘the brightest and the best’!

There is no sensible social or economic rationale to these proposed measures, and the consultation paper doesn’t even try to provide them. What is at stake here is the government’s perception that it needs to throw some red, raw migrant meat to the headline writers of the tabloids who have been giving them a rough time in recent weeks over the unravelling of their promise to reduce net migration to the tens of thousands within the lifetime of this Parliament. That commitment is clearly going down the Swannee: never mind, the abject sight of disappointed domestic workers being made to pack their bags and join the queue, alongside the IT workers, the managers and the planners, the doctors and the nurses, the chefs and the engineers might just do something to restore the credibility of the government to people who are wondering why everything in the country now seems so lousy.

What we have here is a set of proposals which needs to be challenged at every branch and turning. Use this consultation response form to let them know what you think – closing date for submissions midnight 9thSeptember.
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