Taking Back Control

Taking Back Control

A new report from the Centre for Policy Studies, written by former Immigration Minister Robert Jenrick MP, former minister Neil O’Brien MP, and CPS Research Director Karl Williams argues that the scale and composition of recent migration have failed to deliver the significant economic and fiscal benefits its advocates promised, while putting enormous pressure on housing, public services and infrastructure.

The analysis argues:

  • Large-scale migration has not delivered significant growth in GDP per capita, and has increased the strain on our capital stock, from roads and GP surgeries to housing
  • Net migration accounts for around 89% of the 1.34 million increase in England’s housing deficit (the amount of homes we have underbuilt by) in the last 10 years
  • Pressure has been added to rental markets, as well as affecting home ownership. For example, 67% of private rented households in London are headed by someone born overseas, as were 33% of new social housing lets in Brent in 2022/23
  • Between 2001 and 2021, the share of people in England and Wales born outside the UK increased from 9% to 17%, but this rate of change is set to accelerate
  • On the current trajectory, net migration will amount to annual population growth of over 0.6% across the 2020s – double the rate of the last three decades, and six times the rate of the 1990s
  • Migrants from the Middle East, North Africa and Turkey aged 25-64 are almost twice as likely to be economically inactive as someone born in the UK
  • Earnings, and therefore tax contributions, also vary enormously, for example Spanish migrants typically earn around 40% more than migrants from Pakistan or Bangladesh, but roughly 35% less than migrants from France or America. Migrants from countries such as Canada, Singapore and Australia pay between four and nine times as much income tax as migrants from Somalia or Pakistan

The report includes over thirty recommendations, the vast majority of which can be implemented within the remainder of this parliament. Recommendations include:

  • Abolishing the Graduate route, instead giving foreign students who want to stay in the UK should need to find graduate-level jobs that meet the salary threshold within six months of the end of their studies
  • Substantially revising the International Education Strategy (IES), ending the arbitrary 600,000 a year target for the number on international students
  • Accepting the Migration Advisory Committee’s recommendation to retire the Shortage Occupation List (SOL) altogether, rather than just creating a new, opaque Immigration Salary List (ISL)
  • Setting the salary threshold for health & care visas above the National Living Wage, while raising the minimum hourly wage in the care sector by 20-40p to boost domestic recruitment
  • Creating time-limited exceptions to visa limits for NHS workers, until the NHS Long Term Workforce Plan ramps up
  • Imposing an immediate cap on health & care visas at c.30,000, roughly the level seen in 2021
  • Indexing salary thresholds for visa routes in line with inflation, to prevent automatic liberalisation
  • A Whitehall-wide examination of data recording and transparency to allow comprehensive analysis of the impact of migration on everything from housing and public spending to crime and productivity, led by the Migration Advisory Committee
  • Splitting up the Home Office to create a new Department of Border Security and Immigration Control, with the rest of the department forming a Department for Policing and National Security
  • Reaffirming a national commitment to return net migration to the historical norm of the tens of thousands
  • Instituting an annual cap on each individual visa route, voted on by Parliament as part of a ‘Migration Budget’
  • The preparation of a ‘Migration Book’, akin to the Treasury’s Red Book, which should pull together data from across all relevant departments, looking at the demographic and fiscal footprint of migration forecasts, as well as the net impact on housing, infrastructure and access to public services