welfare and public services
In a month’s time we will reach the first anniversary of the introduction of rules which allowed an ‘Immigration Health Surcharge’ (IHS) to be imposed on all people from outside the EU who come to stay in for a period of 6 months or longer. The power to levy these charge came from a provision of the Immigration Act 2014. It consists of a fee £200 (£150 in the case of students) on the cost of a visa to the UK, paid for each year that the person is in the UK. This means that if you are coming in as a sponsored skilled worker under Tier 2 of the Points-Based Scheme for a period of 3 years an additional £600 (£200 for each year) will be paid up front as a condition of issuing the visa.
The really interesting development over the weekend came from the Labour Party leadership with the prospect that Jeremy Corbyn will shortly be making a speech opposing the ‘emergency brake’ on free movement that the Prime Minister has negotiated with EU President Donald Tusk.
The latest news coverage on the referendum on the UK’s membership of the EU is indicating that David Cameron expects to finish his efforts at renegotiation and that a vote might take place as early as June. MRN doesn’t expect to be getting involved in the big questions of whether the EU overall has been good or bad for Britain but we will be setting out our views on one issue that many think lie at the heart of this vexatious question: the right to freedom of movement.
Before the Christmas break I attended several discussions about the EU referendum on behalf of MRN as one question seemed to be particularly challenging for both the ‘In’ and ‘Out’ camps: "What should we say about immigration?"
My provisional take is that it will come to be seen as the year in which the movement of people into and out of the country became finally and indissolubly Europeanised. There are circumstances in which we could easily imagine this to be a good thing, with progressive, forward-thinking governments working together to see how the movement of people is going to play its role in promoting sustainable growth and the welfare of populations, while at the same time cementing human rights and fairness right the way across the system.