The Government’s announcement of a points-based system denying entry to low-skilled migrants is clearly designed to demonstrate its intention to take a hard line on doing just that. Yet the negativity of the reaction from the CBI and industry leaders in key sectors including agriculture and social care raises serious questions about the impact the policy could have on vital everyday services and how widely the Government has consulted before announcing such a major change.
The concerns being expressed by the National Farmers Union, the UK Homecare Association and the Royal College of Nursing are essentially identical – that the policy could lead to a serious shortage of labour that compromises their ability to do their jobs. These are not political organisations with an axe to grind, but professional bodies at the sharp end of delivering care and putting food on Britain’s tables, and their reservations must be taken seriously, especially when the warnings are as stark as saying this could be an “absolute disaster”.
The Government should take heed of these views before driving through the new policy. Industry and local authorities must be consulted before the proposals go any further, as exacerbating existing problems in areas already under intense pressure would be counter-productive.
There is a risk of immigration controls that are too stringent causing untold social and economic consequences. The new criteria for admitting workers must be in Britain’s best interests, and that means allowing our country’s business community and care systems to get the staff they need.