New migration rules will worsen labour shortages

Hospitality is likely to be one of the sectors affected

Measures set by government designed to cut migration are likely to exacerbate labour shortages, particularly in the care and hospitality sectors, according to experts.

The new measures include increasing the minimum salary needed for skilled workers to enter the UK from £26,200 to £38,700, as well as banning care workers bringing family dependents to the UK.

Read more: Skills gap: UK needs one million migrants a year

Home secretary James Cleverly said the new plans would cut migration by 300,000 people a year after it hit an all time high at 745,000 in 2022, according to the Office for National Statistics.

However, Neil Carberry, chief executive of the recruitment and employment confederation said the measures will stunt growth and unfairly disadvantage the private sector. 

Health and care workers will be exempted from the increase to the salary threshold, as those on national pay scales, such as teachers.

He said: “Attracting people to the UK for work and study is a benefit to growth and prosperity here. And it helps to solve shortages – as the government must know, given that health and social care are the heaviest users of our expensive work visa system.

“But while firms have to pay the price, the government chooses to exempt itself from the new threshold. One rule for business, another for the public sector in health and care will not go down well with those in industry.”

Read more: Fines for businesses employing illegal migrants to triple

The government also announced it will increase the annual charge foreign workers pay to use the NHS, raise the minimum income for family visas and ask the government's migration adviser to review the graduate visa route.  

The measures will also end companies being able to pay workers 20% less than the going rate for jobs on a shortage occupation list (SOL).

Firms are now awaiting further clarification on exactly how this will work, according to Jonathan Beech, managing director of business immigration law firm Migrate UK.

He said:  “There is now an anxious wait for the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) to redraft its recommendations for the SOL.

“The Home Secretary has indicated this will be pared down and the discount to salaries removed. 

“The SOL could still be relevant as there was a brief mention that a special salary rate will be applied to the roles on the SOL. This is the hope as it will be needed to keep some industries afloat.”