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MAC report on the Points based Immigration System (Migration Advisory Committee)

The Migration Advisory Committee (MAC)  has recommended a two-pronged approach combining the Australian-style points system so beloved of Brexiters alongside a salary threshold.

However the MAC argued that the type of jobs included under the salary threshold should be broadened out to include medium skilled alongside highly skilled, bringing the overall average down £4,400 to £25,600.  

The following are some key points that have been put together by Alex  Brown at DCMS. She is keen to know your views on the report so that advice can be developed for the Tourism Minister. You can email her on alexandra.brown@culture.gov.uk

Even though it has reduced slightly, the recommended £25,600 threshold could still represent a considerable problem for most tourism businesses.

The report notes "EEA migrants already in the UK have the right to remain, a right the MAC strongly supports. Nothing written in this report should be misunderstood as implying any dilution of the rights of EEA migrants already in the UK."

In terms of the future system, the MAC recommends that the government should reduce the salary threshold for skilled migrants entering the UK with a job offer from £30,000 to £25,600. The MAC do not recommend introducing any geographical variation at this time. The report also recommends maintaining salary thresholds based on workers' occupations, with higher paid jobs having higher thresholds.

On the issue of a points-based immigration system, the MAC recommends that such a system should only be used as a route of entry for skilled workers without a job offer.

The MAC report also suggests some of the attributes considered when assigning points could include academic qualifications, age, study in the UK and previous experience in priority areas of the economy.  This would mean prospective migrants who are able to acquire sufficient points would be added to a pool from which there would be a monthly draw, with those selected invited to make a full application.

Compared to free movement the MAC expect the application of the RQF3+ skills threshold and salary thresholds to EEA migrants to result in a lower level of immigration, a lower rate of growth in population, employment and GDP. They also expect the result to be a small increase in GDP per capita, a small improvement in the public finances, slightly reduced pressure in health, schools and social housing.

The report notes "Some of the largest expected impacts are in sectors that primarily employ lower-skilled workers that would not be eligible under the proposed restriction to medium-skilled and higher-skilled workers in Tier 2 (General). If the Government is concerned about these impacts, it could address this through another route; for example, something like the temporary worker route which was proposed in the Immigration White Paper, or via sector-based schemes which were mentioned during the election campaign. Doing this will be of benefit to those sectors, but at the cost of reducing the likely overall benefits of moving to the new system."

The report notes the estimated impacts of the recommendations also vary across the regions and countries of the UK with the largest predicted impacts in London (driven by the greater share of migrants living and working there).

See the full report here.

The immigration bill, is expected to be brought forward in March.

MAC report on the Points based Immigration System (Migration Advisory Committee)