Cameron’s new immigration taskforce
08 June 2015
Last week, Prime Minister David Cameron announced that he will take personal charge of an immigration taskforce, which is intended to meet the Conservatives’ immigration policy pledges.
The main aim of the taskforce is to meet the promise to reduce net migration to the tens of thousands. This pledge was made in the Conservatives’ manifesto before the previous election but the target was not achieved - in 2014, net migration reached the highest figure in a decade.
There have been numerous criticisms of this target, particularly as the figure includes the significant number of students who travel to the UK and contribute to the country’s academic progress and economy.
According to the BBC, the taskforce will also look at measures to control migration from the European Union, including reforming welfare rules and ‘reducing reliance on migrant labour’. This will include, for instance, imposing a visa levy on employers and creating three million more apprenticeships.
However, experts have criticised this approach: the UK does have skills shortages but at the degree level, so it is unlikely that creating apprenticeships will solve this problem. Also, the European Commission found that EU migrants account for fewer than 4% of unemployment benefit recipients in the UK, despite constituting more than 5% of the workforce. Despite tabloid claims otherwise, the vast majority of people who move from one EU country to another do so to work.
These measures will form part of the negotiation talks with European leaders regarding the UK’s EU membership, ahead of the in/out referendum (which will be held by 2017). Cameron will also lead the cabinet committee on Europe, which will work on all issues related to the referendum.