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Government Defeated Over UK Immigration Bill

The Government’s flagship UK immigration bill that would end freedom of movement rules in the UK post-Brexit has been defeated in the House of Lords, after peers approved an amendment calling for an inquiry into the bill’s impact on care home staffing.

The bill, which paves the way for the Government’s ‘new’ Points Based Immigration System, had already passed it’s initial stages in the House of Commons but peers in the House of Commons voted for a review of the immigration policy in relation to the social care workforce within six months of the Bill becoming law.

The trade union for care workers, the GMB, has claimed that the government’s new immigration rules could result in care worker job vacancies in the UK topping 460,000.

Rachel Harrison, GMB National Officer, said: “Care in the UK is facing almost a staffing black hole of almost half a million people thanks to the Government’s insulting immigration policy and failure to properly fund the sector. 

“The Home Secretary must now accept what the House of Lords has today said about the Government’s Immigration Bill and its concerns about the impact on social care workers. 

“For too long care workers have faced inadequate rates of pay, lack of recognition for their skills, and denial of opportunities for progression. We are determined to defend our members of all nationalities when their jobs are under threat. 

“The demand on social care services is increasing every day, workloads are already unmanageable, and the Government must now try to plug the enormous staffing black hole. 

“Who will keep our care homes going if Ministers continue to pull up the drawbridge?”

Peers approved five amendments to the Bill in total. The other amendments are: 

  • An amendment, keeping current rules for unaccompanied child refugees after the end of the Brexit transition period, which sees them reunited with close relatives in the UK. It was proposed to give EU children in care and care leavers automatic and indefinite leave to remain
  • An amendment preventing Britons returning to the UK with their EU families from March 2022 facing financial conditions. 
  • An amendment giving EU children in care settled status in the UK. 
  • An amendment requiring the government to provide physical proof to citizens of their digital settled immigration status.

The proposed amendment to the immigration rules that would see British Citizens who wish to bring non-UK family members to the UK facing financial conditions is the same Financial Requirement that British Citizens have been subjected to for many years and thus simply brings them into line with existing immigration rules.

To provide different rules based in the nationality of their family members could prove to be difficult. The Financial Requirement has been considered extremely unfair since it was introduced, having a disproportionate impact on poorer families. The current rules for Spouses, Civil Partners and Unmarried Partners refuse to take into account the income of the non-UK applicant when applying based on income.

The proposed requirement for the Government to provide physical proof to EU Citizens of their UK Status under the EU Settlement Scheme would be helpful for employers, landlords and others who need to verify the EU Citizen’s status should be a relatively straightforward matter and this proposal should be welcomed.