Press release

PM announces Migration Advisory Committee will consider new measures to reduce demand for migrant labour

David Cameron announces that the Migration Advisory Committee will consider new measures to reduce demand for migrant labour.

  • Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) will look at proposals to cut non-EEA work migration and give British people the skills they need
  • MAC to advise on a funding boost to UK apprenticeships through a new Tier 2 visa levy, a rise on the minimum salary thresholds for migrant workers, and reforms to skills shortage criteria
  • Proposals on visa salary thresholds to be fast tracked in time for swift action in Immigration Rule changes later this year

The Prime Minister has announced a new blueprint is being drawn up to reduce demand for migrant labour – a crucial part of the government’s plan to cut net migration, and make sure Britain’s immigration system delivers for working people.

Speaking during Prime Minister’s Questions today (Wednesday 10 June), the PM confirmed that the Home Secretary has written to the Migration Advisory Committee asking it to advise on reducing work migration from outside the EU, while making sure Britain is open to the best talent that will help our country succeed.

The MAC commission, which will examine how the Tier 2 (Skilled Work) visa system functions, follows the first meeting of the Prime Minister’s newly-formed Immigration Taskforce, which has been tasked with reducing net migration and focuses on the domestic measures that the government can take to achieve this.

Prime Minister David Cameron said:

This government is on the side of working people: in the past, it has been too easy for businesses to recruit from overseas, undermining those who want to work hard and do the right thing. As part of our one-nation approach, pushed forward by my Immigration Taskforce, we have asked the Migration Advisory Committee to advise on what more can be done to reduce levels of work migration from outside the EU.

In considering how to significantly reduce non-EEA economic migration, the MAC will advise the government by the end of the year on:

  • restricting work visas to genuine skills shortages and highly specialist experts
  • putting a time limit on how long a sector can claim to have a skills shortage
  • a new skills levy on Tier 2 visas to boost funding to UK apprenticeships
  • raising salary thresholds to stop businesses using foreign workers to undercut wages

Whilst the bulk of the Committee’s proposals will be delivered by the end of the year, the Home Secretary has asked it to fast track proposals on raising the salary thresholds of Tier 2 visas in time for the Autumn Immigration Rule changes, to make sure that our immigration system is focused on attracting the brightest and the best skilled workers.

This work builds on the measures already taken by this government to reduce the demand for migrant labour: creating 2 million more apprenticeships, introducing radical welfare reform and establishing a system where it pays to work.

We are already seeing the results: since 2010, the majority of the rise in employment – a record 1,000 jobs every day – have gone to British nationals.

Furthermore, the new Immigration Bill – announced in last month’s Queen’s Speech – will tackle illegal immigration and boost training to give British people the skills they need by:

  • dealing with those who shouldn’t be here, by tackling illegal immigration and boosting deportations
  • reforming our immigration and labour market rules, so we reduce the demand for skilled migrant labour and crack down on the exploitation of low-skilled workers

Notes to editors

As part of the Taskforce’s commission, the government has asked the MAC to consider:

  • options to re-focus the route on areas where there are genuine skills shortages or require highly-specialised experts
  • how to limit the time that sectors are deemed to be in shortage
  • the implementation of a levy on Tier 2 visas, to fund apprenticeships
  • restrictions on the automatic right of Tier 2 dependants to work
  • tightening up on the intra company transferee (ICT) route, including applying the immigration health surcharge to ICTs
  • raising the minimum salary levels that economic migrants have to be paid

The new Immigration Taskforce, chaired by the Prime Minister, was announced earlier this month. View more information on the government’s taskforces and their specific Terms of Reference.

Read the Prime Minister’s speech on immigration in May.