It is trite to say that there is one rule for the rich and one for the poor but, as reported on Sky News this morning, sometimes it’s simply true. The Government has today announced that people earning £150,000 a year can come to the UK to work and will be not be counted as part of the immigration quota.
Skilled workers from overseas who do not take home big salaries will have to satisfy strict criteria. Fewer than 21,000 a year will be let in because of a new cap on the number of people coming to the UK for employment.
Applicants will need a “certificate of sponsorship” from a UK employer and they will be given points according to the rarity of their skills, for example scientists will be ranked highly. Employers filling a vacancy that attracts a salary of £150,000 or more will not be subject to the limit on the number of certificates that may be allocated.
For more information on this change, the press release can be seen here.
Looking at the bigger picture, the Government is sending out mixed messages. On one hand, this will be welcomed by business leaders who are concerned about a brain drain from the UK. This is clearly intended to encourage skilled immigration and to support both the knowledge based economy as well as the City. On the other hand, HM Treasury have raised tax to 50% on the highest earners with hints from the Chancellor that the beneficial tax regime in the UK for resident non-domiciliaries (who will be the ones most interested in the above announcement) may be restricted. In an increasingly mobile global society, there are simply too many other choices and, put simply, tax is a large part of the equation when choosing where to live.
The Government needs to have a clear policy to increase the skill set (and therefore the wealth) of the UK through targeted and consistent measures. It is not enough to simply fiddle with immigration quotas.