The Conservatives have today set out more details of the UK's immigration system to be introduced post-Brexit.
The Prime Minister’s Brexit deal will see freedom of movement end in January 2021, at which point migrants from all countries will be treated equally – meaning we will decide who comes here based on the skills they have to offer – not where they come from.
Only by installing proper controls and ending the preferential treatment of EEA migrants will we be able to attract the brightest and the best from around the world to come here and contribute to our public services, while relying on far fewer low-skilled migrants and getting overall migration down.
The plans will make the welfare system fair for UK taxpayers and ensure the UK has a truly fair and global immigration system.
Tighter claimant rules and greater contributions will mean £1.3 billion more each year for our public services by the end of the Parliament.
James Baker, the new Conservative Candidate for Wallasey at December's election, said: "Immigration plays an important part in shaping our society as well as boosting our economy.
"These new policies will bring in fairer, more cost effective and better ways of handling immigration whilst still making sure we are able to welcome those who want to come here to work and set up a business.”
New measures include:
- The vast majority will need a job offer to come to the UK to work, regardless of where they are from in the world. There will be a small number of exceptions, including high skilled scientists and those who want to come to the UK to start a business.
- Access to benefits will be equalised between EU nationals and those from the rest of the world, meaning that non-UK benefits claimants will typically need to wait five years before they are able to claim benefits. Under current rules, EU migrants can access welfare and services after being in the UK for only three months.
- An end to the unfair practice of child benefit being sent abroad to support children who don't live in the UK – something that the EU refused to grant in the 2016 negotiations. Together, these two measures could save an estimated £800m a year by 2024-25, money that can be invested in the NHS and supporting vulnerable people.
- An increase to the international health surcharge of £625 and extending it to all foreign workers, including EU migrants after Brexit to ensure they are making a sufficient contribution towards our health service. UK citizens pay for the NHS all year round through their taxes and it is only fair that new migrants make a fair contribution for its long-term sustainability. Under the current system, people on a work, study or family visa incur average NHS costs of £625 per year but only pay a £400 surcharge. This measure will raise over £500m a year, which can be put towards NHS services.
- Serious criminals will not be allowed into the country as happens now under EU rules. Those committing crimes will not be permitted to remain in the UK.
- There will be an immediate cash injection of £20 million this year to strengthen our borders and reduce illegal immigration, including new equipment to better detect illicit goods such as the firearms and drugs fuelling serious violence.
Commenting, the Prime Minister said: “As we come out of the EU we have a new opportunity for fairness and to make sure all those who come here are treated the same. We will make our immigration system equal - whilst at the same time ensuring our fantastic public services, like the NHS, are all properly funded.
“A majority Conservative Government will ensure that people who come to our great country from anywhere in the world have both a job to come to, and make a contribution to our NHS - so that we can protect and improve the public services we all benefit from.”
Priti Patel, Home Secretary, said: “One of the benefits of Brexit is that we get to take back control and make our system fairer. A majority Conservative Government will ensure that people who come to our great country from anywhere in the world will contribute on day one.
“Immigration will finally be subject to democratic control, allowing us to get overall numbers down.
“A Labour government would see immigration surge, placing huge strain on public services like our NHS and prisons. Corbyn would also subject the UK to the chaos of two more referendums, with no time to focus on the people's priorities.
“Only a Conservative majority can get parliament working again and get Brexit done so that we can end freedom of movement once and for all.”