Peter Hoskin

Points don’t necessarily mean prizes

Points don't necessarily mean prizes
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Immigration Minister Liam Byrne confirmed the final details of the UK's point-based immigration system today.  The Australia-style scheme - first outlined in 2006 - will be rolled-out as of 29th February.

I was struck by Byrne's claim that:

"The points system means only those migrants Britain needs can come to the UK"

Which jars a bit with his previous statement that:

"I am not the general secretary of a Soviet-style central planning system. I do not sit, together with my colleagues, in an office in the Home Office deciding what the needs of the British economy will be next year"

Surely, the Home Office using a points-based system to determine which migrants "Britain needs" is little more than a "central planning system".  If so, it's a dangerous approach.  Philip Legrain puts it best (describing a similiar point-based system propsed in America):

“But bureaucrats cannot possibly second-guess the requirements of millions of United States businesses, let alone how the fast-changing economy’s employment needs will evolve over time. In effect, the points system amounts to government officials picking winners - a notion that conservatives rightly criticize in industrial policy and elsewhere. Hayek must be turning in his grave.

Inevitably, workforce planners make costly mistakes. At the height of the dot-com boom, Australian officials scoured the world to attract IT specialists, many of whom ended up driving cabs when boom turned to bust. Indeed, Australia has pushed its selection system to such absurd lengths that bureaucrats have identified 986 separate occupations, 399 of which potentially qualify for a skilled-migrant visa.”