News of yet more taxes seems to be a drop in the ocean these days, with few batting an eyelid. A tax of £50 for a UK work visa (£20 for students) may seem an insignificant amount, but it’s still a tax increase and it’s still a bad idea.
The issue of migrant work is clearly a contentious one when so many British workers are becoming unemployed, but in order to ensure the prosperity of Britain we cannot afford to forget the long-term. We cannot allow the government to drag us out of current difficulties at the expense of much greater, long-term, goals.
The labour market has been allowed to stagnate. A wave of regulation and taxation such as the National Minimum Wage and national insurance contributions have made the UK workforce uncompetitive internationally and has reduced competition internally. Hardworking migrants are an asset to our society, boosting economic productivity. We only attract unproductive migrants because of the welfare state the government has created. There is no utilitarian benefit in protecting unproductive British workers when there are others willing and able to do the same jobs from abroad – instead we should be incentivizing productivity to make our labour market more productive – a recession should be acting as a wake up call to our inefficient industries.
The introduction of such a tax may be a nifty vote-winner for the government, but it will be damaging in the long run. The fact cannot be ignored that migrant labour plays a large role in our economy. If we earn a reputation as isolationists, there will no doubt be some reactionary policies abroad. These would have major negative impacts on many of our geriatric industries.
The motive for this levy is to ‘raise £70 million over two years to help pay for public services’. Surely a simpler solution would be to reduce spending on public services by £70million?
Or as Alice Thomson points out, in The Times to pay for the work shy: Two nations: those who work, those who won't