Written by Ohnais Basharat, OISC course delegates, 2022.

What is the legacy of Liz Truss’s government on UK immigration law?

Economic Backdrop

Over the last few years, the global and UK economy have faced adversities and hardships. The unprecedented Covid-19 pandemic shook the world economy (e.g. supply chain difficulties) and, on a micro-level, called for drastic changes within the UK (such as more common ‘work from home’ arrangements). This resulted in business models changing in a short period of time, and society adapting.  To compound woes, the Bank of England announced on the 22nd September 2022 that the country is in a recession.

Truss’s Immigration policies

So, what were some of Truss’s policies?  Below we’ve set out a couple:

    • Expanding the Shortage Occupation List

Stimulating economic growth was a top priority for the Truss administration and, because of pressing labour shortages, this led to her government wanting to expand the shortage occupation list and facilitating businesses’ employment  of overseas workers. This would have allowed more migrant workers to fill job vacancies and resulted in less bureaucracy.  

    • Reform of English language requirement

There was also discussion that, in order to loosen immigration control, the English language requirement would need to be reconsidered, to make it easier for migrants to enter the country.

The Home Secretary at the time (and still current at the date of writing), Suella Braverman, challenged the notion that immigration policy should be reconsidered. The reason? Because of the pressure which immigration places on public services. The UK has plenty of individuals that are fit to work but are reliant on the benefits system. The benefits system should be reformed, so the argument goes, in order to incentivise those who can, and are fit, for work, but still claim benefits.

UK Work Visas

The below diagram (from the Gov.uk website) provides a snapshot of the different types of work-related visas granted. Figure 1 shows a decline in work-related visas from early 2020 to mid 2021. Then late 2021 and mid 2022 experience a sharp rise in Worker and Temporary Worker visas. However, these figures must be assessed in light of the impact Covid-19 had. The steep lows from early 2020 to mid-2021 were followed by a sharp rise from 2021 onwards. Therefore, the rise in work-related visas was not as significant considering the bounce back from the low levels during Covid -19. 

Figure 1. Work-related visas granted by visa type, year ending by quarter, June 2013 to June 2022

What needs to be done?

To conclude, under Truss’s government, work-related visas would have significantly increased in order to tackle the UK labour shortage. Her government would also have seen a politically divisive discourse on reforming the benefits system. In any event, we now have a new government, led by Rishi Sunak. Time will tell how the numbers change.

Written by Ohnais Basharat, OISC course delegates, 2022.

He recently graduated with a high 2:1 in Law from Nottingham Trent University and is seeking legal opportunities where he can apply his knowledge in practice. He is available on LinkedIn to discuss any possible opportunities. 

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