The Conservative Government has reduced immigration into the UK from non-EU Countries, but only because of the pandemic. The Conservatives have made an election issue out of immigration in the past and have also claimed that Brexit would lead to reduced levels of immigration. So far it seems that the only success that the Conservatives have had in reducing immigration, one of their stated aims, is due to coronavirus COVID-19!
The right wing Daily Express commented on 27 February 2020 before the coronavirus lockdown that 379,000 people came to the UK for the year to September 2019, based on Office for National Statistics estimates. Apparently the highest number since records began in 1975.
Perhaps not surprisingly due to coronavirus COVID-19, and the subsequent travel restrictions and closure of overseas UK visa application centres, people have not been able to apply for UK visas. In addition, because of a worsening economic situation due to coronavirus. perhaps some employers are worried that they cannot afford to pay the expense of employing overseas workers.
95 percent drop in Tier 2 visas granted
Newly released Home Office data on Thursday showed that in the quarter April to June the number of migrants granted Tier 2 visas fell 95 percent compare to the same period in 2019. Just 1,384 Tier 2 visas.
Effects of coronavirus COVID-19 on migration into the UK include:
- Tier 2 visas granted for the year to June down 20 percent compared to the previous year.
- Tier 4 visas for students declined 99 percent in the second quarter of 2020 compared to the second quarter of 2019.
Migration Observatory says “total collapse” in UK visas granted
Rob McNeil, deputy director of the Migration Observatory at the University of Oxford said that there had been a “total collapse” in UK visas granted in the second quarter. He went onto say the following:
“The impacts are seen right across the board, with many fewer people getting visas for work, study and family,”
Coronavirus COVID-19 huge impact on UK economy
Before the pandemic the UK economy was doing well with increasing skills shortages. There are still skills shortages. However, not to the same extent as before the pandemic.
According to a BBC report the second quarter hit to the UK economy was the worst to be reported in Europe. However, statistics can be misleading. Rishi Sunak the Chancellor of the Exchequer has said that this is due to the UK economy being more dependent on hospitality and tourism. Surely other Countries could say the same thing. There have been calls to extend the furlough scheme beyond 31 October 2020. Rishi Sunak disagrees.
Rishi Sunak also had the following to say:
“I think most people would agree that that’s not something that is sustainable indefinitely… But we also shouldn’t pretend that absolutely everybody can and will be able to go back to the job they had. That, sadly, is not going to be the case.”
Migrants affected worse during pandemic
Many migrants from outside the EU suffered greatly during the lockdown and continue to do so. The controversial “no recourse to public funds” policy means that they have no access to financial support from the Government if they lose their job.
The Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants (JCWI) for the first time in its 53-year history has had to provide cash, food and clothing to migrants. It is an advisory service.
JCWI chief executive Satbir Singh had the following comments about people who were no longer able to work:
“If that’s been casual work or informal work or cash in hand, they obviously don’t have access to job retention schemes or the support schemes for self-employed.
“So we’ve seen an increase in people becoming street homeless, acutely hungry and not being able to afford even basic medication because they literally have no support available to them.”
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