Immigration system report urges government to avoid past 'mistakes'
By Flora Thompson, PA Home Affairs Correspondent
The Government must make sure past "mistakes" are not repeated in its plans for a points-based immigration system, a report has warned.
The Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) - which provides independent, evidence-based advice to the Government - made a string of recommendations after reviewing plans for an Australian-style points-based immigration system set to be introduced after Brexit.
The committee urged the Government to make decisions on the UK's future immigration system soon, to give employers "adequate time" to prepare for its introduction in January next year.
Committee chairman Alan Manning said: "The Government should ensure that the mistakes of previous UK points-based systems are not repeated.
"No perfect system exists and there are unavoidable, difficult trade-offs. The largest impacts will be in low-wage sectors and the Government needs to be clear about its plans for lower-skilled work migration."
Commissioned by the Home Secretary in June, the report recommends the Government should reduce the salary threshold for skilled migrants to £25,600 - dropping the existing limit by £4,400 for those coming to the UK with a job offer.
Teachers and skilled NHS workers "would continue to benefit from lower salary thresholds".
But a higher threshold should be kept for higher paid occupations, the report also recommends.
The points-based system should have options for skilled workers who do not have a job offer so "talented individuals" could register their interest in coming to the UK with monthly invitations to apply, according to the findings.
Prof Manning added: "Our recommendations are likely to reduce future growth of the UK population and economy compared to freedom of movement, by using skill and salary thresholds.
"We estimate very small increases in GDP per capita and productivity, slightly improved public finances, slightly reduced pressures on the NHS, schools and on social housing, though slightly increased pressure on social care."
The news comes after the Prime Minister announced that top scientists, researchers and mathematicians will be given fast-tracked entry to the UK from next month.
Meanwhile, most Britons think nurses, doctors and dentists should score highly under a points-based immigration system to get a UK visa, according to a poll carried out for think tank British Future.
Some 2,305 British adults including 427 people from Scotland, were quizzed between January 10 and 13 on their thoughts about the post-Brexit immigration system plans.