The ageing population will put growing financial pressure on future taxpayers and governments, and Britain will need to undergo an extra £17bn of spending cuts and tax rises to bring down the national debt to 40 per cent of gross domestic product by 2062, the Office for Budget Responsibility said.
This is on top of the £120bn fiscal consolidation the Chancellor, George Osborne, is pushing through as he seeks to close the budget deficit. But higher levels of immigration would help the economy to grow faster and ease the pressure to cut spending, according to the OBR.
Boosting immigration would prove controversial, however, because the Coalition has pledged to reduce the annual figure to the “tens of thousands” of people by the end of this parliament in 2015, down from the current official level of 260,000 a year.
The Treasury is already warning other departments that a “very tough” government spending review will be needed before the 2015 election – and the OBR’s verdict provides Mr Osborne with ammunition. The OBR’s analysis was based on the assumption that annual net migration over the following five decades will fall to 140,000.
It also showed that if annual immigration were to remain at present levels of 260,000 the economy would grow more quickly. The OBR said that higher immigration would raise the annual growth rate over the next five decades from 2.4 per cent to 2.7 per cent. Under these circumstances the size of the fiscal consolidation needed to bring down the public debt to 40 per cent of GDP would be three times smaller, at just £4.6bn.
Even the OBR’s central projection, which sees net inward migration falling to 140,000 per year, would prove contentious if enacted because of the Coalition’s pledge to dramatically reduce immigration.
The Government is struggling to meet its target of just “tens of thousands” of immigrants coming to the UK each year, and some ministers want to see foreign students taken out of the figures on the grounds that few of them remain in the UK permanently. The move would be controversial as it would be seen as an attempt to “move the goalposts” so the Government can hit its target.
The economic benefits of migration highlighted by the OBR could make it harder for the Conservatives to justify their tough approach on the issue. Private polling for the Tories suggests that the three issues of most concern to voters are the economy, immigration and welfare. Tory strategists plan to exploit immigration in the run-up to the next election as the two Coalition parties diverge.
The OBR’s analysis showed that with annual immigration of 260,000 the UK’s population, presently 62.3 million, would reach 85.8 million by 2060, and the working age population (16-65) would be 50.3 million. If annual migrant flows were 140,000, the British population would reach 77.2 million and the working age population would be 44.5 million. With zero migration the population would rise to 64.1 million and the working age population would fall to 41.4 million.
The OBR also forecast that if net inward migration were cut to zero over the next five decades, the scale of the public austerity facing Britain would need to be three times larger, at £46bn. If all migration ended tomorrow, the UK’s average annual growth rate would fall to 2 per cent and the national debt would spiral to 120 per cent of GDP by the middle of the century.
The OBR said: “Higher net migration than in our central projection – closer to the levels we have seen in recent years, for example – would put downward pressure on borrowing and PSND [public sector net debt], as net immigrants are more likely to be of working age than the population in general.” The OBR said that an ageing population would put pressure on state finances through increasing health spending, higher state pension costs and rising social care bills.
Case study: ‘Immigrants have more drive to be successful’
Mumtaz Khan Akbar arrived in Britain from his home in Kashmir in 1972, aged just 12.
In 1979 with capital of just £1,500 and with the guiding help of his mother, he opened a tiny Asian delicatessen measuring just 12sq m bearing his name. Today he employs more than 350 people and is at the head of a company turning over £25m a year.
Now one of the richest men in Yorkshire, with a personal fortune estimated at £25m, Mr Akbar owns three factories manufacturing ready meals and condiments.
He puts his success down to hard work and determination to succeed. He said: “What I found is that many immigrants have more drive to be successful. You want to be an entrepreneur so you want to do business because you came from a country where there were not many opportunities.
“In Britain there is equal opportunity for everybody and that is what is so great about it.”
So much trouble in the world from civil wars to financial crisis. We know that Cameron and Osbourne would have us believe that it was Labour fault for the finance we have now. Er no it’s a global issue. Osbourne I say to you it’s worth remembering if Labour did not take the bull by the horn to nationalise Northern Rock under the leadership of Gordon Brown this country would have been in a worse state.
Secondly by playing the blame game it no longer washes with the voters. There seems to be a notion that the coalition will be in government for one term I say throw cation to the wind for the moment.
There is no doubt that young Miliband is doing a wonderful job for the time being. This can only last for so long before the social media will round on our leader which most of us witnessed under the leadership of Gordon Brown.
Yes our leader should strike while the iron is hot but also live to fight another day that will be the advise from a former leader of our party will say to Ed Miliband no guesses who that might be.
I can’t help but to think that the world leaders will start to move towards the South East Asia like China for assistance. If we all looking around the world where has China has put its investment that should give us a very big clue.
Why China look at what they have done to gain credit in the UK they have put some investments in Land Rover and world leaders in industries of manufactory which UK is lacking at the moment. Let us not forget that under Thatcher she was the one who sold out on manufacturing and then danged our public services by staving it for 18 years.
Now Im now going to address the most debated topic in regards to mirgation On 11th June 2012, the government announced significant changes to the family migration rules in the UK. The key changes, which will largely come into force from 9 July 2012, include a new income requirement of £18,600 for people wishing to sponsor a partner can apply for settlement in the UK, and a review of the application of Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights to immigration cases.
The new family migration rules reflect the fact that important concessions have been made by government since its original proposals on family migration in 2011 – in part due to public concern. In particular, the level of the income requirement has been set at the lower end of the range under consideration by the government, at £18,600 rather than £25,700 per year.
Overall, however, the new rules will still prevent many thousands of people from exercising their right to a family life in the UK. They will introduce additional hurdles and costs for people, particularly lower earners, who are either British or who are settled here and wish close family members to join them in the UK. As a result, the rules are likely to further undermine the integration of some migrant communities, and to be viewed more widely as unfair as their impacts on both migrants and British people are realised.
In July 2011, the government issued a set of proposals to toughen up the rules for family migration to the UK. Over 5000 people responded to the UKBA public consultation on the proposed changes – many to express their concern about the impacts of the proposed changes.
On 11th June 2012, the home secretary announced her final decision on reforms to family migration, and laid new immigration rules before parliament. The majority of the changes will come into force on 9th July 2012. The government estimates that the new rules will prevent between 13,700 and 18,500 applicants from coming to the UK in the future.
They also estimate that around 12,000 people per year will be prevented by the new income threshold from attaining settlement in the UK through the family route.
The key changes to family migration New £18,600 income threshold for UK sponsors of foreign partners
Following analysis by the Migration Advisory Committee in November 2011, the government is introducing a new minimum gross income requirement of £18,600 for those wishing to sponsor a non-EU partner to enter and settle in the UK
The income requirement will be higher for those applying to bring a child under the age of 18 with the partner, rising to £22,400 for one child, and an additional £2,400 for each further child. The couple will need to meet the minimum income threshold at three stages of application –when the partner applies to come to the UK, when they apply for further leave to remain after 2.5 years in the UK, and when they apply for indefinite leave to remain after five years here.
The income threshold will be particularly difficult for people to meet when making an initial application to bring a partner into the UK from overseas, because the partner’s overseas earnings will not be taken into account. If, however, the partner is already working legally in the UK, their earnings will count towards meeting the threshold. Cash savings, other nonemployment and pensions of both partners will also count.
Once the couple is in the UK, they will still need to meet the income threshold when the partner applies for further leave to remain and settlement, but it will be easier for them to do so. UK earnings, non-employment income and savings of both partners will count towards meeting the income requirement. No third party support will count at any stage.
What will this change mean?
This change will have significant impacts on British people or those settled here who want to bring their foreign partner into the UK. According to the Migration Observatory, this will prevent 47% of the working population of the UK from sponsoring a foreign partner from 9th July 2012 (Migration Observatory, 2012).
Because of differences in earnings across different social groups, the new income requirement will disadvantage women (who are paid, on average, 15.5% less than men in the UK). It will disadvantage people who live outside the South East of England, where the median gross wage stands at 116 compared to the national figure of 100. 48% of people in Scotland, and 51% of people in Wales, for example, will not qualify to bring in a family member (Migration Observatory 2012). Some ethnic minority communities will find it particularly difficult to meet the requirement – over 40% of people in the Bangladeshi and Pakistani communities in the UK earn less than £7 per hour (£14,500 p.a.) compared to the white British rate of 25% (The Poverty Site, 2012). This rule change will also particularly disadvantage young couples who are likely to be lower earners.
Extension of period before non-EU spouse or partner in the UK can apply for settlement
The government is extending what it is calling the ‘probationary period’ before spouses and partners from outside the EU can apply for settlement in the UK, with the intention of testing how genuine their relationships with a UK spouse or partner are. From 9th July 2012, non-EU spouses or partners in the UK will need to wait for five years, rather than the current two, before they can apply for settlement here. In the future, couples who would be eligible for immediate settlement here as they have lived together overseas for four or more years will also need to wait for five years in the UK before applying for settlement.
The extended period before spouses and partners can apply for settlement will introduce additional insecurity for them, as it will be broken down into two temporary visas of approximately 2.5 years each. The spouse or partner will therefore need to make three applications in order to reach settlement in the UK. They will need to meet all the family route requirements, including the new minimum income requirement, at each and every stage of application. If a spouse or partner cannot meet some of the family route requirements, they may be able to apply for a new ‘10 year route’ to settlement on the basis of their family life in the UK. The new ‘10 year route’ will allow them to work in the UK but not to receive public funds.
What will this change mean?
We think that prolonging the period of temporary residence in the UK for spouses and partners will, rather than achieving the government’s goal of reducing ‘sham’ marriages, have the overall effect of increasing the insecurity of all families seeking to settle in the UK.
By requiring spouses and partners to reapply for extended temporary leave before being able to move to indefinite leave to remain in the UK, the government will cause additional costs, uncertainty and worry for spouses and partners, rather than moving them to a point of security in the UK. The government is sending the wrong message to couples by describing this as a ‘probationary’ period. Those who have already met the requirements to come to the UK as part of a genuine couple should be supported when here, in order to support their wider integration.
The introduction of a new 10 year route to settlement will be a safety net of sorts for spouses and partners who fall short of meeting the new requirements before they reach settlement in the UK. However it will not be a substitute for bringing people to a point of security quickly and clearly in the UK.
Application of Article 8 of the ECHR
Through both the amended immigration rules and explanatory documents on this matter, the government wants to provide direct guidance to UKBA caseworkers and the courts on how the right to private and family life (Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights) should be weighed up against the wider public interest in immigration cases. The intention is that the rules send ‘the clearest possible statement of public policy on these issues’ to the courts – the result being that only in ‘exceptional cases’ will individual Article 8 claims challenge decisions made by the UKBA or home office on the basis of the immigration rules. Only in ‘exceptional circumstances’ would a threatened removal of an undocumented migrant be considered a violation of Article 8 rights.
On 19 June 2012, the House of Commons approved a motion put forward by the government regarding the use of Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights in immigration cases, and approving the conditions for its use set out in the latest immigration rules on family migration. Further guidance on this issue is now expected from the home office.
What will this change mean?
It is not yet clear how political debate on the government efforts to reform application of Article 8 of the ECHR will unfold over the coming weeks. However, at this stage there are real concerns about the implications of parliament setting specific guidelines on this matter, particularly where they are directly aimed at reducing the numbers of successful Article 8 cases in the courts. We are concerned that this change could result in rule-making which undermines the right to family life in favour of political, rather than public, interest.
Other significant changes:
Requiring partner applicants to take an intermediate level (B1) English language test and the ‘life in the UK’ test.
From October 2013, all applicants for settlement, including partners, PBS migrants and others, will be required to pass the Life in the UK test and a speaking and listening qualification at intermediate level (B1) or above. People who can’t meet these requirements will be able to apply for further temporary leave to give them time to improve their language and knowledge skills before reapplying.
Measures to tackle ‘sham’ marriages
The government has backed down from a number of its problematic proposals to tackle ‘sham’ marriages in the UK – in particular it will not be introducing a controversial ‘attachment requirement’ for overseas applicants. The UKBA will be releasing new guidelines for caseworkers which list ‘factors associated with genuine and non-genuine relationships’ in order to inform decision-making. Other measures, such as increased enforcement activity around suspicious marriages, remain under consideration.
Removal of the full right of appeal for people refused family visit visas
The full right of appeal for people refused family visit visas is expected by the government to be removed from all family visitors through the Crime and Courts Bill by January 2014. From July 2012, the full right of appeal for these visas will be restricted to those coming to visit a close family member who has settled, refugee or protection status. Aunts, uncles, nephews, nieces or first cousins will not be able to appeal refusals of family visit visa applications from July 2012.
Extension of the period before Points Based System (PBS) dependents can apply for settlement in the UK
People coming to the UK as the partner of a migrant under the Points Based System will will be required to wait for five years before they can apply for settlement in the UK. This will cover all new applications made on or after 9th July 2012.
Restrictions on the ability of non-EEA adults and elderly dependent relatives to enter and settle in the UK
People wishing to bring elderly dependent relatives to the UK will only be able to settle in the UK if they can demonstrate that, as a result of age, illness or disability, they require a level of long-term personal care that can only be provided in the UK by their relative here, and without recourse to public funds. Aunts and uncles will no longer be eligible to come under this route, and applications will have to be made from overseas rather than the UK.
Removal of the ’14 year rule’
The 14 year rule, which currently leads to settlement on the basis of long residence for those who have been in the UK continuously for 14 years with or without lawful status, will be abolished. The home office intends that the rule will be replaced from 9 July onwards with the requirement that the condition of 20 years residence be met if any part of a person’s residence has been without official leave to remain. The immigration rule provision permitting applications for settlement on the basis of 10 years continuous residence where the entire period of that residence has been with official leave to remain will continue unchanged. Discretionary Leave will no longer be granted under Article 8 of the ECHR if the person does not meet the requirements of the rules.
Lastly I would like to give acknowlegement for the following people who brought this to my attention: Sofi Taylor, Ben Chu, Andrew Grice, and Mirgat’s Rights Network for their great source of information without them this would not be have happened.
I have done a few articles already which I have included here: