A points-based immigration system

Writing for the Institute of Public Policy Research, Marley Morris looks at the Government’s proposed new points-based immigration system, due to be launched in January 2021.

Morris raises potential positive and negative impacts of the new system. She states that the impact will vary widely by sector. The flexible nature of a points-based system could allow the Government to “design it in such a way to tackle some of the UK’s deep economic challenges.” Different points can be assigned to different criteria, creating well paid jobs in sectors that require them.

However, the author also states that sectors that are highly reliant on workers from the European Union could struggle to recruit the required staff. This includes areas such as food manufacturing, social care, warehouse work and support for transportation. In London, the construction workforce is currently made up of around 30% EU-born workers. Many EU workers in these industries will struggle to reach the criteria for a ‘skilled visa’ under the new system, which in most cases requires a salary of £25,600 or more. This, combined with the damaging impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, could harm these industries in the short and medium term.

Morris goes on to examine the possible impact on migration flows caused by the points-based system. Lower levels of EU migration are likely, with an estimated 63% of EU-born workers currently living in the UK (excluding the self-employed) ineligible for the skilled worker route under the new system. Morris states that in principle non-EU migration may increase. However, this may be limited in the short and medium term due to the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic. Restrictive immigration measures for lower-skilled workers from outside the EU will also remain in place under the new system.

Morris concludes her report by restating its recommendations:

  • scrapping the general salary threshold of £25,600;
  • expanding the shortage occupation list to allow for the possible inclusion of jobs at all skill levels; and
  • expanding sponsor duties for employers to include the provision of a real living wage to all staff and to commit to ‘fair work’ principles.

Read the full article: Marley Morris, Building a post-Brexit immigration system for the economic recovery, Institute for Public Policy Research, 3 November 2020

Life in prison

The UK has amongst the highest rates of long-term imprisonment in the world. According to Ben Jarman, this has partly arisen due to a broad legal definition of murder, and partly due to so-called ‘back-door sentencing’ (the recall to prison of those who had been released early), making it harder for offenders to stay out of prison.

Writing for the British Journal of Criminology, Jarman examines how a life sentence can affect an offender. He focuses on how long-term sentences impact a prisoner’s motivation to pursue rehabilitative measures while serving their sentence.

First, the author looks at the effect of a long prison sentence on life course. He draws on comparisons of lifers sentenced when they were in their early 20s, compared to those in later life. Jarman presents findings from extensive interviews with offenders who received their sentences at differing stages of life. Second, Jarman examines the degrees of perceived stigma and shame experienced as a result of the conviction, and how this impacts rehabilitative efforts.

Jarman states that these two factors (length of sentence and shame associated with sentence) can directly affect how a long-term prisoner interacts with rehabilitative and ‘risk reduction’ measures available to them during their sentence. Younger lifers, for example, were generally more likely to work towards a “better future self”. Older lifers were less likely to do so, due to reasons including:

  • a feeling of having squandered ‘generative’ opportunities such as family and career;
  • expectations of dying in prison; and
  • worries that life after release would be “a lonely decline into infirmity.”

Read the full article: Ben Jarman, ‘Only one way to swim? The offence and the life course in accounts of adaptation to life imprisonment’, The British Journal of Criminology, November 2020, vol 60 issue 6.