Support for Australian-style visa points system grows in UK

by Ray Clancy on September 30, 2014

Support for an Australian-style visa points system for people from outside the European Union is growing in the UK.

One of the country’s newest political parties, UKIP, which could win its first seats in parliament in forthcoming by-elections, said it wants to limit immigration to 50,000 a year.


The UKIP party wants to limit immigration to just 50,000 people per year

Steven Woolfe, UKIP spokesman on migration and financial affairs, said that the UK needs a ‘selective and a skills-based policy’.

Immigration has become a central feature of British politics, with UKIP gaining ground among both Labour and Conservative voters and polls showing more people would like to see an Australian-style system.

But support is not universal. According to Simon Walker, director general of the Institute of Directors, such a move would damage British businesses, as access to foreign investment and skills from the across the world are key to the UK’s prosperity.

The proposed policy has also been criticised by think tank the Adam Smith Institute. ‘Despite what UKIP claims, immigration is good for virtually everyone in society, rich and poor alike,’ said research director Sam Bowman.

‘The evidence is clear that even low-skilled immigration only hurts low-skilled native wages temporarily, and does not affect the number of jobs available to natives at all. The reason for this is that immigrants demand services as well as supplying them. Every job taken by an immigrant also means a new job will be created to supply him or her with their needs,’ he explained.

Philip Booth, editorial and programme director at the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA), is also sceptical of the virtues of an immigration clampdown. ‘I believe that there are huge benefits from a liberal policy on immigration, as long as benefit systems are not designed to create perverse incentives,’ he said.

UKIP has also pledged to introduce a priority entry system at passport control for Britons, with a separate queue for the rest of the world, including European Union citizens.

At its annual conference, the party also said it would allow employers to discriminate in favour of British workers and make sure foreigners have medical insurance when they come to work or live in the UK.


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