Liz Truss is preparing to increase immigration to fill job vacancies and boost economic growth in a move that will anger some of her ministers and MPs.
The prime minister plans to raise the number of workers allowed to enter the UK, government sources have confirmed.
Reports claim the government will lift the cap on seasonal agricultural workers and broadband engineers, and make other changes to the shortage occupations list, which will allow key sectors to recruit more overseas staff.
Truss is said to be keen to recruit broadband engineers to complete a pledge to make full-fibre broadband available to 85% of UK homes by 2025. It has also been suggested that she could ease the English-language requirement in some sectors to enable more foreign workers to qualify for visas.
The proposals faces resistance from cabinet Brexiters including the home secretary, Suella Braverman, and the trade secretary, Kemi Badenoch, according to the Sunday Times.
One Conservative MP said that many new Conservative voters in “red wall” seats will be baffled by any softening of immigration rules.
“The government is going to have to explain to those people who thought we were a pro-Brexit government and want to curb immigration why we seem to be changing tack,” the MP said.
Ministers are also discussing whether to allow in more highly educated workers from across the globe. This includes proposals for a new visa for workers who have graduated from one of the top 50 or top 100 global universities.
Two million UK job vacancies were advertised last month, with the social care sector trying to fill 105,000 posts. There is also a shortfall of 40,000 nurses and 100,000 HGV drivers, and the farming industry has called for an extra 30,000 visas for seasonal workers.
The Sunday Times said the Cabinet Office minister, Nadhim Zahawi, had chaired a meeting last week about the proposed changes. He is understood to be in favour of updating the shortage occupations list. The environment secretary, Ranil Jayawardena, is believed to be backing the plan to boost the number of seasonal farm workers.
Badenoch is opposing proposals for a “freedom of movement” agreement with the Indian government as part of a trade deal she is negotiating, it was reported.
The chancellor, Kwasi Kwarteng, announced on Friday that a new plan would be published in the coming weeks “to ensure the immigration system supports growth while maintaining control”.
Asked on Sunday if the government was prepared to relax immigration rules, he said Braverman would make an announcement soon.
“The home secretary would be making an update on immigration policy … she will be making that in the next few weeks,” he told BBC One’s Sunday with Laura Kuenssberg.
The government pledged that a new immigration system would be introduced after leaving the EU, with ministers saying it would bring down overall levels.
There are almost 1.8 million non-EU nationals working in Britain, 302,000 more than a year ago, according to the Office for National Statistics. Home Office figures show the number of visas given to all workers, students and their relatives, both EU and non-EU, has risen by more than 80% in a year to more than 1.1m, the largest number on record.
Meanwhile, more than 30,000 people seeking refuge in the UK have crossed the Channel in small boats, government figures show.
source :- https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2022/sep/25/liz-truss-plans-more-immigration-in-effort-to-fill-vacancies-and-drive-growth