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Leigh On Sea News. Westminster Report - Westminster Report by Southend West MP Anna Firth.

Leigh On Sea News. Westminster Report – Westminster Report by Southend West MP Anna Firth.

Westminster Report - Westminster Report by Southend West MP Anna Firth.

Westminster Report by Southend West MP Anna Firth.

IMMIGRATION is by far the most frequent topic that people bring up with me on the doorstep in Southend and Leigh.

Last year net migration stood at 606,000, which is the equivalent of adding more than three new cities of Southend to the population. This is unsustainable.

It is also a long way from the Conservative’s manifesto pledge to get the numbers below the 2019 level of 226,000. In 2019, the Conservatives won our biggest majority in 30 years on the promise that overall migration would come down.

We owe it not just to all those people who put their trust in the Conservatives in 2019, many for the very first time, but to everybody to cut immigration to a manageable and sustainable level.

The Government is already taking decisive action on tackling illegal migration.

Our returns agreement with Albania, which was signed last year, has seen a dramatic reduction in the number of Albanians coming to this country illegally. Last year, they made up over 45% of the people crossing the channel illegally.

Since the agreement, this has dropped to under 1%. I also pleased that the Illegal Migration Bill is making progress through Parliament to ensure that people who arrive here illegally cannot stay.

Of course there is more to be done on this extremely difficult issue, but I am pleased that the Prime Minister is continuing to tackle illegal immigration head-on, ensuring that it is the Government, not people traffickers, who decides who can enter this country.

However, it is not just illegal migration that we need to tackle. More people are coming to this country than our public services can deal with, leading to increased pressure on our schools, hospitals and housing. High levels of low-skilled migration into the UK have also had a negative impact on our wages, productivity, and living standards.

Easy access to high volumes of low-skilled, low-wage migration has meant that too many British businesses have failed to invest in British workers. We should be prioritising skills and training for our young people instead of opening the door to ever higher numbers of overseas workers. That’s the best way to increase wages and living standards for people here in the UK.

I recently signed the foreword to the New Conservatives’ policy paper that outlines a plan to cut net migration. If implemented, the plan devised by the New Conservatives would reduce net migration by over 400,000 a year.

It’s clear that the vast majority of British people want net migration levels to be lower than they are now and the plan contains twelve practical steps to help reduce it.

Policy proposals include raising the minimum income required to gain a skilled work visa and reserving university Study Visas for the brightest and best international students.

The paper also calls for the raising of the minimum combined income threshold for sponsoring a spouse, so that they do not have to rely on the benefits system, and raising the minimum language requirement to ensure that migrants can properly integrate in society.

The plan also calls for the Government to rapidly pass and implement the provisions of the Illegal Migration Bill and cap the number of refugees legally accepted for resettlement in the UK at 20,000.

We are also calling for the temporary schemes that grant visas for care workers to be phased out. These were introduced following the Covid pandemic on a short-term basis to plug the gaps in our system, and the time has come to start gradually phasing them out.

I have spoken with local care service professionals who agree that this is the right course of action. They have told me that, in the short-term, we do need to continue to recruit from abroad.

I want to be absolutely clear that we do value these workers, especially as our care service would struggle without them at the present time. However, care industry professionals agree that in the long-term we need a plan to encourage and attract our own young people to enter the caring profession.

It is time for us to honour the promise that we made in 2019 that immigration would be brought down. Quite simply, we must reduce the number of migrants coming to this country.

This plan sets out how we can do that.

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