Sunday, November 28, 2010

Immigration cap loophole sees massive INCREASE in immigration to Britain

The Government's cap on immigration is being undermined by a surge in foreign workers who are exempt from new visa rules, official figures have shown. Home Office statistics reveal that the number of foreigners arriving on "intra company transfers" (ICTs), which do not count towards the cap total, rose sharply following the Coalition's announcement of an interim cap in mid-July.

There were 30 per cent more ICTs handed out in between July and September this year than in the same period last year. Experts said the increase showed that companies were to continuing to import cheap labour despite the Government's clampdown, and warned that numbers would continue to rise even after a permanent cap on migrant numbers comes into force next April.

Peter Skyte, of the trade union Unite, said: "It is a massive loophole. Our prediction has always been that the immigration cap would be all smoke and mirrors."

The ICT scheme allows firms to bring non-EU nationals who are already on their payroll into the UK. It is widely used in the IT industry. One Indian company alone, Tata Consultancy Services, sponsored 4,600 employees to come to Britain in 2008; another, Infosys Technologies Limited, sponsored 3,235 in the same year.

Theresa May, the Home Secretary, has said she will fulfil a Tory manifesto pledge by capping the "skilled worker" routes at 21,700 a year, but she agreed to exempt ICTs from the new restrictions following pressure from business leaders and Vince Cable, the Lib Dem Business Secretary.

In the third quarter of this year, as the Home Office was restricting other immigration routes, more than 8,000 foreigners came to work in the UK under ICTs - up from 6,000 in the same period last year.

If the current ICT rate is sustained, more than 32,000 immigrants would arrive under the route each year, meaning the true number of migrant workers would be about 54,000 a year when capped routes and ICTs are added together.

Mr Skyte said Unite feared there were significant loopholes in limits imposed on ICTs by the Home Secretary last week. Under the terms of the permanent cap, ICT workers earning between £24,000 and £40,000 a year will only allowed to remain in Britain for 12 months.

Mr Skyte said: "We think companies will simply transfer lower-paid staff for 11 months and three weeks, for example, and then they will be sent home for a few weeks and re-apply under a new ICT. "There doesn't seem to be anything in the rules to stop it. "In other words, the number of people coming on ICTs could actually rise.

"The Home Office has also failed to take the chance to prevent companies counting allowances for things like accommodation as part of their gross pay, and it looks like some employers have sought to make as much use of the route as possible while current rules are in place. "The Government's announcement has squandered a golden opportunity to tackle abuse and misuse of ICTs."

Sir Andrew Green, chairman of the pressure group MigrationWatch, said: "There is clearly a build-up of ICT applications this year. "While it is essential that staff who are seriously needed can get into Britain, this route will have to be watched very closely to avoid it becoming a loophole in the whole system of economic migration."

On the possibility of workers exploiting the 12-month ICT rule, he said: "We have yet to see the details of this scheme but if it allows people permitted to come for a year to go home for a few weeks and return then it will rapidly become absurd."

One British worker, who declined to be named but is employed in IT by a well-known bank, said: "Employers will find plenty of ways to abuse the system. "Where I work now there are British workers being made redundant and at the same time ICTs are being brought in to replace them. The Government's measures have had no effect whatsoever."

Another IT worker said: "Sadly the IT business in this country is doomed, primarily because they have printed ICTs and other visas like confetti."

Damian Green, the immigration minister, said: "The new immigration limit clearly sets out which workers we will allow into the UK job market. "It has been drawn up following extensive consultation with businesses and reflects their views. But our view is clear: we need employers to look first to those who are out of work and already live in this country.

"The limit will allow us to protect those businesses which are vital to our economy, allowing them to attract the best and the brightest, but more importantly it will bring immigration down to sustainable levels."

In the whole of last year there were 22,030 ICTs but in just the first nine months of this year the figure had already reached 22,520. The quarterly total of ICTs has crept up incrementally since the beginning of last year, when there were 4,355 applications between January and March. In comparison, in 1992 there were just 7,000 ICTs handed out during the whole year.


Large number of working class Britons abandoned and ignored by the major political parties

They see Britain as an "unfair" society -- particularly as regards immigration

Five million people have given up on mainstream political parties in the past ten years. Most of this huge number have stopped voting altogether. Some have defected to the United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP). Some, thankfully a smaller number, have even embraced the loathsome British National Party (BNP).

These millions of people look at David Cameron, Ed Miliband and Nick Clegg and can’t see much of a difference between them. They look at their policies and see the same attitude to punishing criminals; the same signing up to the European Union’s demands; the same support for multiculturalism and more immigration.

Ed Miliband encountered this angry class of mainstream political deserter on Thursday when he sat down with some Tesco shopworkers in Dudley in the West Midlands. They were working hard to make ends meet and they hated the way that their taxes were abused by people on welfare, people who could work but don’t.

The Labour leader looked shocked and uncomfortable at such conservative views from people he probably regarded as core Labour voters.

When I try to give these disenfranchised voters a human face, I think of a woman I saw being interviewed on television and who voted BNP in last year’s European elections. Talking to a television reporter, while packing a gift parcel for troops in Afghanistan, she said she wanted her son’s school to teach British history. She wanted her local town hall to celebrate Christmas and not have her council tax used for a politically correct ‘Winterval’ festival. She didn’t want her country governed by Brussels.

Race wasn’t mentioned, but her disillusionment with the mainstream parties had led her, in desperation, to lend her vote to a racist party.

For the first time, the concerns of this army of five million have been analysed in detail by the lobby group, which campaigns against the BNP and extremism in politics and polled thousands of what it calls ANTI voters.

The acronym ANTI comes from four defining characteristics. First they are ‘Angry’ about the political system. They are tired of broken promises and political parties ready to surrender solemn pledges as soon as they are in office. Last year’s expenses crisis wasn’t the beginning of their disdain for MPs, but it did confirm their low view of parliament and politics.

Secondly, they feel ‘Neglected’ financially, and because of this are much more pessimistic about their future than the average Briton. They are the pound-stretching class. They have to watch every penny. They worry about keeping their jobs. They resent their taxes going to undeserving causes or being used to bail out Ireland and rich bankers.

The third characteristic of the ANTI voter is ‘Traditionalism’. They hold traditional views about crime, drugs, family values and national pride. They worry their country is changing too fast and not for the better.

Finally, and most importantly, the ANTI voter is opposed to large-scale ‘Immigration’. Their worry about immigration isn’t about race, except for a small minority. It is about pressure on the housing stock. It’s about competition for scarce jobs. It’s about children trying to learn in schools where English isn’t the first language for many of the class.

When questioned, 89 per cent of these ANTIs said they would be more likely to vote for a party that promised to be tougher on immigration; 85 per cent said they would be more likely to vote for a party that promised to take back powers from Europe; 81 per cent said they would be more likely to vote for a party that promised to crack down on crime.

Moreover, 94 per cent of BNP voters and 91 per cent of UKIP voters agreed with the statement that ‘Britain is no longer a fair country that rewards its people based on merit’.

Before the General Election, these voters were hardly on David Cameron’s radar. From the first moment he became Tory leader, he aimed to win back the votes of ‘Liberal England’ — the people who had defected from the Conservatives to either the Liberal Democrats or to Tony Blair. He wanted to win back people who cared about the environment, the National Health Service and civil liberties. He wanted to soften conservatism, not toughen it.

He built up a campaign machine at Conservative HQ that focused not on the whole country, but on the two million swing voters in the 100 marginal seats who tend to decide who becomes Prime Minister.

As an electoral strategy it failed to secure him an outright majority, although it won enough seats to end Labour rule. Now, however, as Prime Minister, David Cameron has a bigger responsibility. In No 10 Downing Street, Cameron has a responsibility to govern for the whole nation and we should judge him, in part, on whether he can reduce the ANTI voter army.

As a Conservative, Cameron has an opportunity — many would say an obligation — to show that a politician can keep promises and can make a practical improvement to the lives of the pound-stretching class. So, what would an ANTI voter make of his performance so far? On immigration, the most important issue, there are at least hopeful signs.

When David Cameron began negotiations with Nick Clegg about forming a coalition government, he made it clear he wasn’t prepared to compromise on the promise he made to reduce net immigration of people outside the EU from the hundreds of thousands to the tens of thousands.

That promise is essentially a 70 per cent cut from the Labour years when weak border controls allowed two million people to come to live and work in Britain. It was the equivalent of two extra cities the size of Birmingham added to the nation’s population, in little more than ten years.

The Prime Minister and Home Secretary Theresa May have fought a tough battle within the Coalition Government to defend the pledge. The Liberal Democrats do not believe in the Tories’ hard-line approach and Nick Clegg wants illegal immigrants to have the right to settle in Britain.

Business Secretary Vince Cable attempted to dilute the immigration cap, but Mrs May dug in her stiletto heels and wouldn’t be moved. She also defeated big business interests who’d rather import cheap labour from overseas than patiently train British workers, many of whom prefer to live on benefits.

So far, so good. But economic migration is only one route into Britain. Many more immigrants come into the UK as students, but they register at bogus colleges and work in the black economy.
Others still enter our country using bogus marriages and family visas, but they arrive neither able to speak English nor with any understanding of British culture.

If Theresa May succeeds in blocking these immigrants, too, in a step-by-step attack on Britain’s lax border controls, she’ll do more than any other politician to restore the ANTI voters’ trust in politics.

In addition to Theresa May, the two other members of Cameron’s team who best understand the ANTI voter are Iain Duncan Smith and George Osborne. In particular, they understand the ANTIs’ concerns about tax payers’ money going to undeserving causes and are trying to rebuild the welfare system so that work pays and people who refuse reasonable job offers lose their benefits.

When these reforms were first announced, Labour instinctively accused the Tories of being harsh. But as Ed Miliband found out, on his visit to Dudley and that Tesco supermarket, low-income workers who do the decent thing are tired of being taken for a ride.

Ed Miliband is certainly going to find it hard to win over the pound-stretchers. He is associated with the government that created the conditions that gave rise to the ANTI voter: out-of-control immigration; a welfare system that was unfair to those in work; and massive growth in anti-social behaviour. Unlike Cameron, he can only make promises. He can’t easily do anything that will overcome the ANTIs’ deep suspicion of politicians’ words.

These hurdles won’t mean that the Labour leader won’t or shouldn’t try. Nothing will stop Cameron being re-elected if the economy is strong by the time of the next election and he fixes the deficit, fixes immigration and fixes welfare.

But Miliband has half a chance if things turn messy for Cameron. By messy, I mean rising fuel bills. I mean higher VAT and higher holiday taxes. I mean a crime wave on streets where there are fewer police officers, a crime wave committed by people who the Coalition didn’t put in prison because Justice Secretary Kenneth Clarke does not believe in locking up criminals. I mean Europe continuing to order Britain to do things like give votes to prisoners.

What Cameron has to realise is that, more than anything else, the ANTI voters describe Britain as ‘unfair’.

Unfair to them and unfair to people who do the right thing.
Cameron has a great opportunity to bring these disaffected voters back into the mainstream of politics, but only if he becomes their champion.

On immigration and welfare the signs are good. But on Europe, tax and crime, he’s going in the wrong direction.


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