National Pig Association - The voice of the British pig industry

Pig World logo

Home > News > Government unveils new immigration policy
Westminster

Government unveils new immigration policy

19th Feb 2020 / By Ed Barker

Today, the Government released details of its future immigration policy, as the UK operates outside of the EU.

Setting out a new points based system, the Home Office said EU and non-EU citizens coming to the UK would be treated equally after UK-EU free movement ends on 31 December.

Most importantly for farming and the supply chain, unskilled workers would not get visas under post-Brexit immigration plans unveiled by the government.

It is urging employers to "move away" from relying on "cheap labour" from Europe and invest in retaining staff and developing automation technology. It has also been suggested by Ministers that employers should try and recruit from among eight million "economically inactive" potential workers in the UK.

How it would work

The government wants to bring in a "points-based" immigration system, as promised in the Conservative election manifesto. Under this, overseas citizens would have to reach 70 points to be able to work in the UK. Speaking English and having the offer of a skilled job with an "approved sponsor" would give them 50 points. More points would be awarded for qualifications, the salary on offer and working in a sector with shortages.

The salary threshold for skilled workers wanting to come to the UK would be lowered from £30,000 to £25,600. However, the government says the threshold would be as low as £20,480 for people in "specific shortage occupations" – which would not include permanent, ‘unskilled’ agricultural job roles. Job roles included on the list are nursing, civil engineering, psychology and classical ballet dancing.

Characteristics

Tradeable

Points

Offer of job by approved sponsor

No

20

Job at appropriate skill level

No

20

Speaks English at required level

No

10

Salary of £20,480 (minimum) – £23,039

Yes

0

Salary of £23,040 – £25,599

Yes

10

Salary of £25,600 or above

Yes

20

Job in a shortage occupation (as designated by the MAC)

Yes

20

Education qualification: PhD in subject relevant to the job

Yes

10

Education qualification: PhD in a STEM subject relevant to the job

Yes

20

Industry reaction

The NPA and other farming sectors have criticised the proposals, stating that they represent a major risk to British food production.

NPA chief executive Zoe Davies said: "We have been consistently warning Government for past 4 years that the UK needs access to a labour market that allows pig producers and allied industries to grow.

"As our surveys with members have shown, permanent labour from the EU has been a vital part of the pig production workforce, and drives to actively bring it down will have significant impacts on businesses.

"Agriculture is strategically important. We have an Agriculture Bill going through Parliament that explicitly underlines the importance of food security; if we are to source more food from the UK then we need to have the workforce to supply it. As it stands, one Defra’s approach to food production is entirely at odds with the Home Office’s.’

NFU President Minette Batters stated: "As the UK’s largest manufacturing sector, British food and farming is at the very core of our economy and any immigration policy must deliver for its needs.

"Automation will have a vital role to play and we fully support investment in this area, but it is not yet a viable option to replace the number of people we need and farmers will need a practical solution in the meantime. There are also some jobs that simply cannot be replaced by technology."

The full details of the Government announcement can be found here

Campaigns