It is hardly a wonder that the UK are now witnessing serious calls to tackle immigration and Cameron’s immigration policy changes fall neatly in line with his recent Eurosceptic cabinet reshuffle. Last week he announced that the time period in which non-nationals would be able to claim benefits would be halved from six to three months and they would also be unable to claim benefits for their first three months of stay within the UK. This stance is certainly directed towards the many voters that the Tories are wishing to reclaim from UKIP. However, a scan of Twitter quickly confirms that they have not been won over and many consider this to be too little, too late. Essentially, the tightening of immigration has taken Cameron 4 years and has been criticised for being conveniently announced in the run up to the general election, making it difficult for many voters to see this action as little more than campaign propaganda.
Alongside this reduction of benefits Cameron has pledged to stop more than 500,000 British jobs being advertised across the EU. Previously under the EURES scheme, all positions advertised in the UK had to be offered to EU citizens as well. On top of this, the scheme provided European workers with funding to cover travel expenses for interviews within the UK, relocation costs, English lessons and gave UK firms up to £1000 if they hired foreign workers. Arguably, the fact that of the 2.4 million jobs advertised on the EURES site, 1,138,847 were UK based jobs indicates the root of the UK’s immigration issue and subsequently the high levels of unemployment experienced particularly amongst young school and college leavers. Thus, Cameron’s calls to clamp down on recruitment agencies that only seek foreign labour and to reduce the advertisement of UK jobs within the EU should see employment benefits for the UK’s younger population, but these changes have wider implications, especially when considering the impact on the UK’s economy.
Cameron’s immigration policies are certainly intended to paint a more promising future for Britain, with the suggestion of many more jobs available and a reduction of benefits being allocated to non-nationals. However, critics have scorned this as nothing more than a cheap attempt to win voters especially considering that these policies go directly against the economic advice of the IMF who have warned that restrictive immigration policies within the UK could hinder productivity growth. This follows from an IMF report, which outlined that:
‘relaxing immigration requirements in areas with labour shortages such as manufacturing could provide a boost to productivity and facilitate the rebalancing of the UK economy.’
Thus, surely Cameron’s calls to reduce immigration are set directly against the IMF’s recommendation and indicate that he values pleasing the Eurosceptic punters above fostering the UK’s economy? This is, however, perhaps unfair as Cameron has clearly stated within all of this that the immigration changes still recognise the economic value of many immigrants and that the UK will continue to grant visas for graduate entrepreneurs and those of exceptional talent who will contribute to its growing economy. As Cameron has said, this is all about
‘carefully and painstakingly…building an economy that has real opportunities for our young people’
and should his projected outcomes of these policy changes prevail, the benefits should be seen directly in youth unemployment levels.
How does your country find a balance in this political hot-topic? Do you think the UK is handling it in an appropriate way?
Feature image: source