The Government’s plan to control migration in the coming years is incoherent, lacking detail and appears unworkable for agriculture and construction, according to a new review.
In its review of the Government’s plan to introduce nine-month, four-year and ten-year permission statuses for migrant workers, and one long-term permission, the Migration and Population Review Panel says that States Members will need a lot more information before they vote on the new rules.
The panel, led by Senator Steve Pallett, also argues that the Council of Ministers should publish a population policy by the end of this year - a previous commitment the Assistant Chief Minister Deputy Rowland Huelin, who has political responsibility for the project, has said is now unlikely to be met.
Senator Pallett said: “We recognise that the Government is in an unenviable position in relation to the timing of the proposition.
“The need for a population policy and a review of the Island’s migration controls is urgent but we also face a combination of global and national factors, compounded by a lack of robust data that means the States Assembly are likely to be debating controls without being able to see the whole picture."
Pictured: “We would all accept that increasing the island’s population at 1,000+ a year is unsustainable," Senator Pallett said.
He continued: “This panel has no desire to delay debate on the introduction of a responsive system, but we need to make sure it is right and equitable for all who come to live and work in Jersey. We hope our recommendations will assist and address some of the concerns that have been expressed to us.
“I think we would all accept that increasing the island’s population at 1,000+ a year is unsustainable. The consequences for our health service, schools, roads, housing and our cherished environment will be extremely damaging and, ultimately, lead to a much lower level of wellbeing for islanders.
“However, our economic sectors require the necessary workforce to be able to thrive and grow, and some need staff and skills that are not currently available to hire as and when they require them.
“We have, over a long period of time, become more reliant on a migrant workforce to fill these gaps, and this will continue to be the case but we need to find a way to make sure that this doesn’t come at the cost of a lower quality of life for those already living and working here.”
Pictured: Net inward migration figures released by Statistics Jersey last year.
He added: “One of the themes which became clear from the respondents to this review was that there was a lack of understanding about how the new work permits would work alongside immigration rules and whether the costs of new regulation could have financial implications for some businesses.
“The panel has included in its recommendations that clarity be provided in these areas to ensure that States Members – and the public - are fully aware of the relationship between the immigration and work permit requirements.”
Other recommendations include:
It comes after hospitality heads wrote to the Chief Minister, arguing that a new population policy was "unnecessary" because migration controls would naturally curb growth.
Responding to the open letter yesterday, Senator John Le Fondré said: “I am grateful to the Chief Executive of the Jersey Hospitality Association [Simon Soar] for his detailed letter voicing the industry’s concerns regarding future migration controls. I can reassure him that the government has no intention of “turning all the available control mechanisms to maximum in one fell swoop.
“Instead, the debate next week is the first step in creating a coherent population policy with effective migration controls, and recognising the distinction between immigration controls and migration controls. The proposed controls set out in P.137/2020 do not increase or decrease the number of migrants who can come to the Island: they just offer a more effective way of controlling the flow.
“The changes are designed to make it easier for the government to support the overall future economy of the island with targeted migration where it is needed. The controls will therefore provide the levers to implement a policy which will be debated at the end of 2021."
Pictured: The Jersey Hospitality Association explained that the workforce available to their sector had suffered an 85% reduction due to Brexit.
He added: “We are acutely aware of the tensions that exist between protecting our economy, our environment and our wider community, and these will be at the heart of the forthcoming population policy. The migration controls are there to ensure that Jersey remains agile to the ever changing demands of today’s global economy, and the Island’s expectations.
“Mr Soar suggests that immigration controls are sufficient and no changes are needed to the Control of Housing and Work Law (CHW). However an employer will only be granted an immigration work permit if they already hold a permission in respect of that job.
“As such, it is vital that the government makes changes to the law now to ensure that it provides the level of control that we need as we deal with all of the challenges that we will face in the future."
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