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Cleverly to set out package to curb legal migration after figures hit new high

Home Secretary James Cleverly will unveil a package of measures intended to bring down net migration after figures hit a record high.

He is expected to tell the Commons on Monday that the minimum salary requirement for a skilled worker from overseas will be significantly hiked to around £38,000, a Whitehall official said.

The increase from £26,200 a year for visas to work in Britain was said to feature in a wider package to be announced as Rishi Sunak comes under huge pressure.

POLITICS Migrants
(PA Graphics)

The Prime Minister has vowed to “do what is necessary” to bring down net migration in the wake of an official estimate saying levels had peaked at 745,000 in 2020.

The salary figure is lower than the £40,000 in the deal Mr Sunak allegedly agreed with his since-sacked home secretary Suella Braverman to win her support for the Tory leadership.

Privately, two sources said, Mrs Braverman and immigration minister Robert Jenrick had pushed for the cap to go even higher, to £45,000.

The first official confirmed that the number of dependents that social care workers are permitted to bring into Britain will also be reduced in the package.

The changes will raise concerns about how the key roles will be filled if migrants are either prevented or dissuaded from coming.

The general secretary of the Unison union Christina McAnea said the measures would be “cruel” and “disastrous” for the social care sector.

The trade union leader told BBC Radio 4’s World At One programme: “We already know that there’s massive shortages in social care and indeed in health.

“This will be an utter disaster because what they’re doing is basically sending out a really strong message to those migrant workers who are basically propping up the care sector and indeed in many cases the health sector and saying you’re not welcome here.”

Downing Street declined to discuss the specifics ahead of Mr Cleverly’s announcement on Monday afternoon, but insisted that the package is “about striking the right balance”.

The Prime Minister’s official spokesman added: “We do believe there is a significant pool of people who can be assisted back into the workforce.”

Suella Braverman
Sacked home secretary Suella Braverman had been arguing for a higher requirement (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

He said “there is evidence of abuse in the system and that’s what we will clamp down on” following changes introduced “over successive years”.

Mr Sunak has been under growing pressure from Tory MPs after the Office for National Statistics (ONS) revised its net migration figure to put 2022 at a record high of 745,000.

Detailing the difference between the number of people arriving in the country and leaving, the figure for the year to June 2023 is estimated to have been slightly lower, at 672,000.

The Prime Minister has sought to blame the “very large numbers” on his predecessors, saying he had “inherited” the levels.

They stand three times higher than before Brexit despite the 2019 Tory election manifesto promising to bring overall numbers down.

He is also facing a challenge to deliver his pledge to “stop the boats” crossing the Channel, after his flagship asylum policy was deemed unlawful by the Supreme Court.

Mr Cleverly is expected to head to Kigali to finalise a new treaty with Rwanda this week, which ministers hope will help convince judges otherwise.

No 10 said they were still working “urgently” to secure the deal and to produce “emergency” legislation that was promised after the legal defeat last month.