New family migration rules could end up costing the UK as much as £850 million over ten years.
An analysis by Middlesex academics Dr Helena Wray and Professor Eleonore Kofman made headlines when it was published on Tuesday 9 July. It revealed that, contrary to claims made by the Government, the new income requirement for sponsoring a non-EEA spouse or partner may actually be costing the public purse rather than saving it money.
The Government claims that the rules have been designed to ensure that those coming to the UK to join their spouse or partner will not be a burden on the taxpayer.
However analysis of the Government’s Impact Assessment for the policy suggests that the new policy may be generating substantial costs rather than savings. Home Office data also suggests that non-EEA partners, who have the right to work in the UK but cannot claim most benefits, were not a burden on the welfare state under the previous rules.
Dr. Helena Wray from the School of Law, who co-authored the research briefing with Dr Eleonore Kofman, said:
“It appears the Government got its sums wrong when designing this policy. When the cost-benefit calculations for this policy in the Impact Assessment are properly carried out, the figures actually show that the income requirement could cost the public purse £850 million over 10 years. It will not reduce the benefits bill; in fact, it is likely to increase it as single people are more likely to claim benefits than those living with a partner”.
Ruth Grove-White, Policy Director at the Migrants Rights Network, a campaigning organisation, which has been working with affected families since the rules were introduced said:
“These figures are a further damning sign that the Government did not fully consider the costs or the wider implications of splitting up families. Everyone who has been separated from their children and loved ones as a result of this policy now hopes that the Government will agree to fully review these rules, both in light of the recent calls from MPs from all major parties and given emerging evidence of this kind”.
Recent numbers have revealed that the applications fell from 25,664 in the six month before 9 July 2012 to 10,854 in the six months post 9 July 2012. Studying the numbers Professor Eleonore Kofman warned:
“Based on the information we have about the effects of the rules, it’s not just the 58% drop in overall number of applications, but also that the new regulations affect women disproportionately which should be of concern to the policy makers. The number of visas issued to male partners of a British spouse decreased even further, by 83.6%. It was foreseen that the new regulations would affect women more, but this still came as a shock.