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NATECLA statement on proposed immigration policy - March 2020

NATECLA statement on the proposed immigration policy

The Government’s proposed new immigration system and policy, due to come into effect in January 2021, is extremely damaging to the principles and values of ESOL. The new system is likely to have consequences for the ESOL sector, as well as other further education skills areas.

The new system proposes a points-based visa system to replace the free movement of labour of EU citizens and the current controls for non-EU citizens. Most people wishing to come to work in the UK will need to have a job offer at a skill level of at least RQF 3 (A level) and ‘speak English at a required level’. They will also need to satisfy the requirement for twenty additional points, mainly by means of higher wage levels or holding a job-relevant PhD. Applicants deemed to be low-skilled due to low-paying sectors such as in the hospitality and care sectors will not be able to achieve the points required. The Home Secretary, Priti Patel, has claimed the 8.5 million ‘economically inactive’ citizens within the UK can make up any shortfall in these job areas. According to official figures from the Office for National Statistics the vast majority of these people are students, long-term sick and retired.

The main repercussion for ESOL provision is that there will be a reduction in numbers of people eligible for ESOL. Although key details have yet to be confirmed, from January 2021 thousands of learners who have traditionally been part of ESOL will not be allowed into the UK. In addition, it seems likely that new arrivals, who may still need ESOL despite ‘speaking English at the required level’, will be ineligible for funding. This is likely to lead to a loss of provision as ESOL providers may not be able to maintain current provision. Furthermore, any disruption in provision is likely to affect those who continue to need it, such as refugees, settled EU citizens and learners from established communities.

NATECLA is adding its voice to campaigns urging the government to review and change the terms of this immigration policy. We believe this policy will contribute further to an increasingly hostile attitude towards migrants and is based on a misunderstanding of the roles and contributions of those who come to work and live in the UK. We are very concerned that the new immigration policy only recognises people based on a narrow economic value, without regard for wider social and economic contributions. Those who work in low-paid sectors such as hospitality, agriculture and care are not a burden on the state, but offer valuable contributions to our economy and ways of living. ESOL plays a key role in the creation of a global Britain and a vibrant, multilingual economy that enriches us all.

NATECLA urges our members to be active in our campaign, to ensure the consequences of this policy are understood within your institutions and beyond, and to keep us informed of any effects of this policy on in your ESOL provision. You can contact your local NATECLA branch or the Co-Chairs: nateclachairs@gmail.com