‘Enough is enough’: Ministers outline five-point plan to slash migration by 300,000

4 December 2023, 16:46 | Updated: 5 December 2023, 15:08

Home Secretary James Cleverly
Home Secretary James Cleverly. Picture: UK Parliament TV/Alamy

By Kieran Kelly and Jasmine Moody

The Home Secretary James Cleverly has unveiled the Government's plan to crack down on legal migration, which includes raising the minimum salary threshold for a visa from £26,200 to £38,700.

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Speaking to Parliament, Mr Cleverly said the Government is "taking more robust action than any government before" to reduce legal migration.

Mr Cleverly said this will ensure "people only bring dependants whom they can support financially".

Health and care workers will be exempt from the change.

Mr Cleverly told Parliament that net migration is "far too high" and that the series of measures are being brought in to stop people from "jumping the queue".

The series of measures that will be brought in from the Spring will mean "more than 300,000 people who came to the UK last year, would now not be able to".

James Cleverly addresses the Home Secretary
James Cleverly addresses the Home Secretary. Picture: Parliament TV

Five-point plan to bring down migration

  • Care workers will be banned from bringing family dependants to the UK
  • Companies will no longer be able to pay workers 20% less than the going rate in industries with job shortages
  • The annual charge for foreign workers to use the NHS will be hiked from £624 to £1,035
  • The minimum income for family visas will rise from £18,600 to £38,700 from next Spring
  • A review will be launched into the graduate visa route to stop "abuse"

The hike in the threshold to £38,700 is £3,000 more than the median salary and immigration minister Robert Jenrick's proposed level.

"People will be surprised at how strong a package it is," a senior Whitehall source previously told The Telegraph.

Immigration is a hugely important issue to voters and Mr Sunak has one eye on the forthcoming general election and the other on the right of his party, whose members have demanded tougher action on immigration and believe it's a pathway to electoral success.

Net migration hit 745,000 in the year to December 2022, keeping levels at record highs.

It is well above the roughly 300,000 the figure hovered around in the years before Brexit.

Reacting to the Monday announcement, former Home Secretary Suella Braverman welcomed the measures, but said the package had arrived “too late”.

Writing on X, Ms Braverman said: “I welcome the measures announced today to cut net migration. They are a step in the right direction.

“But we need to be honest. This package is too late and the government can go further.”

She claimed the delay in implementing these measures means it will not be possible to see a fall in the number of migrants before the next general election and that proposals should go further - such as introducing an annual cap on net migration.

“I put forward similar measures 6 times in the last year. I’m glad that the PM has finally agreed to introducing some of them now but the delay has reduced their impact,” she finally added.

Read more: 'Worker shortage list' including ballet dancers could be axed as ministers battle to reduce migration

Sunak plans to crack down on migration
Sunak plans to crack down on migration. Picture: Alamy
The number of arrivals to the UK is soaring
The number of arrivals to the UK is soaring. Picture: ONS

Plans are also being put together to reduce the number of dependants that social care workers can bring to the UK, and the total amount of NHS and social care visas that can be awarded may also be capped - as per Mr Jenrick's ideas.

Dependants are increasingly being looked for their impact on migration numbers and there is also a proposal to raise the £18,600 income threshold needed for British citizens to bring a spouse or dependant into the UK under a family visa.

Read more: Rwanda migrants deal 'set to be sealed next week' as UK government to 'pay an extra £15 million'

The shortage occupation list, which allows businesses to recruit migrants to fill certain vacancies, could be "scrubbed" amid fears a clampdown on foreign labour could lead to vital positions going unfilled.

The plans come as the government tries to reboot its Rwanda plan, another method for bringing down arrivals.

James Cleverly also plans to get the Rwanda plan off the ground
James Cleverly also plans to get the Rwanda plan off the ground. Picture: Alamy

It would see asylum seekers get deported there to have their claims processed in Rwanda, where they would then stay if successful.

Mr Sunak hopes to pass legislation that would make the scheme acceptable to the courts, after the Supreme Court upheld a decision to block the flights.

Mr Cleverly is set to fly to Rwanda this evening to sign a treaty that will help resurrect the deal.

Stopping small boat crossings was one of the prime minister's key pledges when he entered No10, and the Tories hope a tough immigration stance could help restore the party's popularity with votes.