Rishi Sunak has had a bad start to the week, with the latest ConservativeHome cabinet league table placing him at the very bottom at minus 25.4, just below his Chancellor Jeremy Hunt. Now, the Prime Minister is hoping to move his government onto firmer ground with a package of measures aimed at reducing legal migration. Sunak has been under renewed pressure to act since new figures showed that net migration reached a record high of 745,000 in 2022. Given the Tories promised to reduce overall levels of migration in the party’s 2019 manifesto, they are some way off delivering their pledge.
When the Home Secretary addresses the Commons later, the measures will include raising the minimum salary threshold for a skilled worker visa from the current level of £26,200. This could potentially be raised to over £38,000. Also expected to feature are the number of dependants migrants can bring to the UK (including students) as well as a tightening of visas for healthcare workers. Ministers under-estimated how many health workers would use these visas when they were first brought in.
I understand that the measures bear a close resemblance to the five-point plan Robert Jenrick has been arguing in favour of behind the scenes – the Home Office minister has won praise from the right of the party over his push for tighter measures. Jenrick met with Sunak on Wednesday to discuss the potential plans. The idea is the package will reduce net migration by around 300,000.