Brexit-Driven Immigration Changes Expected to Boost UK Wages and Self-Sufficiency

United Kingdom
#immigration #brexit

The Brexit referendum in 2016 was marked by a strong desire among leave voters to regain control of immigration, a sentiment encapsulated in the "take back control" slogan. However, more urgent challenges including the cost of living and rising interest rates have diverted the spotlight away from legal immigration in recent years.

Changing Immigration Landscape

The UK has seen a change in its immigration environment since the Brexit vote. In 2022, net migration reached a record high of 606,000, in part because of elements like the surge of Afghan and Ukrainian refugees. These immigrants have played a crucial role in filling labour market gaps and reducing supply shortages.

The sources of workers who were born abroad have also changed. The UK no longer predominantly accepts immigrants from EU nations, but now also accepts workers from nations like India, Nigeria, Zimbabwe, and the Philippines. 

These people have played a crucial role in preserving important services, particularly in the health and social care sectors. This change is in line with the UK's transition to a points-based immigration system, under which workers from all over the world are accepted based on a set of requirements, including job skill requirements, English language ability, and a minimum annual wage of 26,200 GBP.

Impact on the Economy

Image showing EU and UK flags - Brexit Expected to Boost UK Wages and Self-Sufficiency

The UK economy may be significantly impacted by the shifting immigration scenario. For instance, immigrants from India and sub-Saharan Africa frequently land highly skilled professions and earn higher incomes than their EU-born colleagues. The goal of decreasing reliance on low-skilled, low-wage, and low-productivity jobs is consistent with this transition.

While some industries, like hospitality, had historically resorted to hiring a large number of educated immigrant employees from the EU, the switch to a points-based system has forced businesses to reconsider their approaches. As the availability of inexpensive labour declines and labour prices increase, businesses may be more willing to invest in labour-saving technology. In fact, there are already indications that business investment in the UK is rising.

The UK's immigration laws have undergone substantial adjustments as a result of Brexit. The move to a more varied, points-based system may result in a more self-sufficient economy with greater earnings, despite calls for more immigration controls. These modifications may potentially usher in an era of increased investment and economic resilience while the world goes through a phase of deglobalization.

According to Samuel Tombs, a UK economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics, during the year leading up to the second quarter of 2023, immigration accounted for nearly all of the 0.9% growth in the size of the workforce.



How has the government responded to calls for tougher immigration controls?

Responses from the government have been conflicted. There have been calls for tighter immigration controls from some MPs, including an increase in the minimum wage requirement, but there have also been hints that the administration may be relaxing immigration laws in some circumstances.

How have Brexit-driven immigration changes affected education in the UK?

International student enrollment and the availability of academic personnel in UK universities have been influenced by Brexit. After Brexit, universities saw difficulties with both student recruitment and research cooperation.


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