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IPPR warns ban on economic migrants will damage UK economy

A thinktank has warned that the Home office suggestion to ban nearly all economic migrants from outside Europe inhabiting in Britain will create a “guest worker” labour force that is likely to damage the UK economy.

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The Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) evaluated that the policy of splitting the link between temporary migration and permanent settlement for all but the very wealthy from outside Europe, will reduce the number settling each year from 40,000 to about 1,000.

But Matt Cavanagh, IPPR associate director, said turning economic migrants into guest workers, as the government recommendation, makes no sense in economic terms. This will cause big problems for employers and will be unfair on individual migrants.

Cavanagh said that the experience of other countries like Germany who have tried similar policy in the past also suggests it will be unworkable.

He added that there was nothing wrong with trying to shift the balance towards temporary migration, but this was the wrong way to go about it.

Cavanagh asserted that ministers should learn from previous experience and look at substitute methodology, like financial incentives and tailored support for returning migrants, as outlined in their report.

He added that trying to keep settlement to an absolute minimum made sense to those who only cared about reducing net migration.

The associate director elaborated for anyone who cares about Britain’s skill to continue to attract the brightest and the best, about the impact on the economy as we try to grow our way out of recession and about the effects on integration within our society, these proposals raise real concerns.

The immigration minister, Damian Green, said in June that skilled workers from outside the EU coming to Britain to fill skill shortages should require to leave after five years.

Temporary workers would also be limited to 12-month stays to reinforce the temporary nature of the route. Only those earning more than £150,000 a year and elite sportspeople will maintain an automatic route to settlement.

Green said the government, which has vowed to cut net migration from 239,000 a year to under 100,000 by the next election, needed to be more selective about who they allowed to stay.

The IPPR study said that apart from the very wealthy, skilled overseas workers will have to leave after a maximum of five years regardless of how well they were doing their job, what role they have made and what roots they have put down in the community. They would only be able to stay if they have married or entered into a civil partnership with a British resident.

As reported in the Guardian, Cavanagh compared the Home Office plans with Germany’s gastarbeiter (guest workers) policy, which was introduced 50 years ago and focused on Turkish migrants.  He said that they were controversial from the point of view of fairness, integration and community cohesion, and they were ineffective in their stated aim, with large numbers of supposedly temporary migrants staying permanently.

He added that in Germany, the gastarbeiter policy led to the popular slogan there was nothing more permanent than temporary workers, as millions of Turkish guest workers and their relatives ended up settling.

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