LONDON: Britain soug­ht to cut the number of migrants arriving in Britain through legal routes on Monday, raising the minimum salary they must earn in a job by a third after record net migration in 2022 piled pressure on Prime Minister Rishi Sunak to act.

High levels of legal migration have for more than a decade dominated Britain’s political landscape and Sunak has promised to gain more control after lawmakers in his Conservative Party criticised his record ahead of an election expected next year.

Interior minister James Cleverly said the government would raise the minimum salary threshold for foreign skilled workers to 38,700 pounds ($48,900), from its current level of 26,200 pounds, reform the list of jobs where exceptions are made due to shortages, and toughen rules on whether workers can bring their families.

“Migration to this country is far too high and needs to come down, and today we are taking more robust action than any other government before,” Cleverly told lawmakers.

“This package of measures will take place from next spring.” The measures could lead to new disputes with business owners who have struggled to hire workers in recent years given Britain’s persistently tight labour market and the end of free movement from the European Union following Britain’s departure from the bloc.

Annual net migration to the United Kingdom hit a record of 745,000 last year and has stayed at high levels since, data showed last month.

Published in Dawn, December 5th, 2023

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