Mayor calls on ministers to waive £65 ‘Settled Status’ fee
- Government’s £65 fee shows it has failed to learn lessons of Windrush scandal
- Sadiq says Government’s Immigration White Paper does not address the needs of the economy and public services
- Sadiq believes Government’s immigration approach is one of the reasons that MPs should vote against Withdrawal Agreement tomorrow
- Mayor also wants expansion and devolution of fast-track scheme to boost jobs in key business sectors
The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has today accused the Government of ‘not learning the lessons’ of the Windrush Generation scandal and called on ministers to waive the £65 ‘Settled Status’ fee that European citizens living in the UK must pay if they wish to remain here after Brexit.
He has also criticised the Government for ignoring the evidence and advice provided by himself and many of London’s leading business organisations, resulting in a proposed immigration policy which would severely damage the economy and public services.
Writing to the Home Secretary, Sajid Javid, the Mayor says that the Government’s ‘promised new conversation on immigration is off to a poor start’ and that many EU citizens living here are ‘at risk from the same policies that led to the Windrush Generation experiencing discrimination, destitution, and deportation.’
He has also advised the Home Secretary that the Government’s Immigration White Paper that was published last month does not address the concerns of London’s businesses and risks doing profound damage to growth, jobs and communities in London and across the UK. This is a view that is also supported by the Government’s own economic appraisal of Brexit.
The Mayor has met many senior business leaders from across key sectors of the capital’s economy. Many of them share the Mayor’s belief that the Government’s proposal to restrict future immigration to skilled people earning salaries over £30,000 will be hugely damaging to sectors including health, social care and construction.
This approach to immigration and disregard for the economic and human consequences, is one of the reasons the Mayor has called on MPs of all parties to reject the Government’s Withdrawal Agreement when it is voted on tomorrow. (Tuesday)
Sadiq also argues that the Government’s ‘Shortage Occupation List’, which can fast-track applicants into roles where there is a shortage of workers, should be considerably expanded to better reflect London’s needs, and potentially devolved to the capital.
Writing to the Home Secretary, Sajid Javid, the Mayor said:
“I am disappointed that the Government’s Immigration White Paper did not address the concerns London businesses that I raised with you prior to its publication. The promised ‘new conversation on immigration’ is off to a poor start.
“Your proposal to restrict future immigration to skilled people earning salaries over £30,000 simply won’t allow London to continue to grow its economy and provide crucial public services.
“There are hundreds of thousands of young people who were born in the UK or (like the Windrush Generation) brought here as young children, who are prevented from participating in the economic, social and political life of the UK by the prohibitive cost of applying for leave to remain or citizenship.
“While the previous Home Secretary rightly waived fees for the Windrush Generation, the Government clearly has not learnt the wider lessons. There are many others still at risk from the same policies that led to the Windrush Generation experiencing discrimination, destitution, and deportation.
“The Home Office now faces the unprecedented task of registering 3.4 million EU citizens resident in the UK. Many people will find this process inaccessible and unaffordable. As a matter of fairness, the Government should waive the Settled Status fee for EU nationals and their families who were resident in the UK before the referendum took place.”
EU citizens wishing to stay in the UK after 30 June 2021 will have to apply to the government for ‘settled status’ – allowing them an indefinite right to remain. Applications open on 30 March and will cost £65 for adults and £32.50 for under-16s.
A controversial Home Office advertisement for the settlement scheme has seen the Government criticised with claims ministers are ‘threatening’ EU citizens into registering.
Last month, Sadiq announced that City Hall and the GLA Group (London Fire Brigade, Metropolitan Police, Mayor’s Office of Policing and Crime, Transport for London, the Old Oak and Park Royal Development Corporation and the London Legacy Development Corporation) will pay the fees for all EU employees if the Government doesn’t act.
The Mayor wants the Home Secretary to publish impact assessments on how the Government’s proposed new immigration policy will affect its ability to meet its target to build 300,000 new homes a year, provide care for the social and elderly and help maintain the hospitality, tourism and creative industries.
He also believes the Government should give businesses more time to respond to the Migration Advisory Committee’s first consultation on the Shortage Occupation List in over five years. This consultation comes to an end today (Monday) - but the Mayor would like it extended so that employers can be adequately engaged.
City Hall has launched the ‘EU Londoners Hub’, providing EU citizens with the latest information about their rights post-Brexit and directing them to expert legal advice, support services and guidance on employment rights. It also signposts the most vulnerable people to advice and support services in London.
Jasmine Whitbread, chief executive at business group, London First, said: “The Government must recognise the huge contribution people from around the world make to the UK. With one in three Londoners born outside the UK, the existing £30,000 salary threshold risks turning away the nurses, engineers, construction workers and talented people we so desperately need.
“Lowering the salary threshold to the London Living Wage, currently £20,155, will avoid a recruitment cliff-edge, keep the UK open to a range of skills, and ensure workers are decently paid.
“Business is stepping up on training and skills but, if the Government doesn’t get immigration right, it risks leaving critical sectors and public services with too few people to do the job.”