Change of government – what’s next for UK immigration?

09 July 2024

After fourteen years of Conservative rule, the Labour Party has secured a landslide general election win. This will give Labour a mandate to push ahead with its Manifesto commitments – so what changes can we expect to UK immigration?

Starting with illegal migration, the new Prime Minister, Sir Keir Starmer, has long condemned the Rwanda scheme calling it a “gimmick” and motions are already in place to scrap the scheme. Yvette Cooper has been appointed Home Secretary, who will oversee immigration in the UK, and has immediately set up the UK Border Security Command aiming to tackle organised crime and the smuggling of people to the UK. 

On legal migration, we don't expect to see any policy changes immediately, so it is likely to be business as usual for some while. During the campaign, Labour’s political tone often suggested that they would adopt more inward-looking policies to upskill the existing British workforce rather than seeking skilled migrants. There was however a focus in Labour’s manifesto on the need to use immigration to support the health, care and construction sectors in the UK which particularly rely on workers from overseas at present. 

Labour also want to devise a system that will link immigration with skill policies and will achieve this by working closely with the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC), which advises the Government on the economic impact of immigration policies. However, Labour’s manifesto committed to reducing net migration and, besides reforms to the points-based system, they aim to clamp down on non-compliant employers and recruitment agencies. Compliance processes should therefore be reviewed. 

On family migration policies, the minimum income thresholds are set to rise and we will watch with interest to see how Labour implement this, if indeed they do. 

On the whole, we expect Labour will take a more moderate approach than its predecessors but, while there may be fewer radical changes, the immigration stance will largely remain the same. Policies will continue to be centred around reducing net migration figures. We doubt we are going to see policies making immigration to the UK easier – including a return of the investor visa – and any changes may be more sector-focused to help rebuild the UK’s economy. 

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