Summary: Movement control: a blueprint for free movement that works for Britain

immigration

Summary

posted on 20th November 2018

The UK could address public concerns around immigration within existing Free Movement rules according to a new report published today by Global Future, backed by Lord Andrew Adonis.

E-ID cards controlling the right to live, work, claim benefits and use public services should sit at the heart of a new system that includes a new turbo-charged Strengthening Communities Fund, new rules and tougher enforcement of labour standards and a renewed focus on integration and ensuring that newcomers speak English.

  • In exclusive interviews with politicians across Europe, continental policy makers were unanimous – the UK could and should make use of additional powers to control free movement in line with other European nations.
  • We show how our European neighbours have interpreted Free Movement to secure more control – the UK is currently the only country in Europe not to employ a national ID system
  • We set out a new blueprint for Free Movement that works for Britain:
    • Monitoring and security: Introduce an electronic ID Card to provide compulsory registration for anyone staying more than 90 days, giving government up to date information on who is living and working in the UK
    • Pressure on public services and the benefits system: Make a valid e-ID Card a requirement to live, work and access public services and benefits, and use it to release extra funding for public services in areas experiencing surges in migration
    • Fairness in the Labour Market: Proper enforcement squads to crack down on unscrupulous businesses and new protections for British workers
    • Integration: Introduce a new turbo-charged Strengthening Communities Fund underpinned with multi-billion pound investment to reflect the positive impact migrants make on the UK economy, and boost language and integration provision

Responding to the report, Andrew Adonis said:

“After visiting the 100 most Leave constituencies in the UK I know the Remain side will need practical answers to Leave Voters’ concerns in the coming People’s Vote – that’s what this report provides.”

“The choice between EU membership and controlling migration is a false one. Electronic ID cards would mean we know exactly who is here and give us real control over access to out public services and entitlements. A new Strengthening Communities Fund could pump £2 billion a year into the public services and infrastructure facing new demand, and we could have tougher minimum wage enforcement and new rules to ensure British workers have the first chance to apply for new jobs when they need it.”

“These policies are practical, actionable solutions to immigration that are already being deployed across Europe. I believe strongly that they will help to persuade voters that the best way to take back control is to stay in the EU and get serious about immigration and welfare enforcement – so let’s do that instead of trashing our economy on the basis of a false choice.”

Peter Starkings, Director of Global Future said:

“Free movement has been good for Britain – it’s boosted our economy, created jobs and helped millions of Brits live work and study across Europe. Throwing it all away is terrible mistake that will damage Britain and deepen the very burning injustices the Prime Minister has promised to address.”

“This report sets out a better way – control free movement so that it works for Britain. At its heart is a new E-ID cards controlling the right to live, work, claim benefits and use public services in Britain. This is a blueprint for Free Movement that works for Britain, would address public concerns and would allow Britain to maintain the close trading relationship with Europe that people want.”

Detail

Immigration and the free movement of people have been good for Britain, but no system is perfect and reform is back on the agenda. Theresa May has interpreted the 2016 vote to Leave the EU as a clear instruction to end Free Movement, whatever the cost, and has begun to articulate policy in that direction.

This is a mistake. The public’s view of immigration is far more nuanced than is usually presented. As NIESR show1, when looked at in detail public concern centres on control not numbers, nor high or low skilled but a desire to keep out (perceived) low quality migrants – criminals and those who don’t play by the rules.

Ultimately public concerns about immigration fit into four categories:

  • Monitoring and security: People want confidence that the government knows who is coming in, and that we are keeping dangerous criminals out
  • Pressure on public services and benefits: People want to ensure that our public services don’t suffer and that everyone plays by the same rules
  • Fairness in the Labour Market: Making sure that decent jobs are protected and unscrupulous employers don’t use immigration to cheat the system
  • Integration: We want people who come to the UK to play their part in society – that means learning English and putting down roots

Each can be addressed within Free Movement rules.

In exclusive conversations with politicians across Europe, continental policy makers were unanimous – the UK could and should make use of additional measures currently allowed, in line with other European nations.

  • Lodewijk Asscher (Former DPM Netherlands):
    “There is absolutely more the UK could have done to manage free movement.”
  • Sandro Gozi (Former Italian Europe Minister):
    “It is really odd that the UK hasn’t introduced compulsory registration for EU citizens/ID cards, or enforced the 3-month rule, as we do in Italy and other countries. They help us to keep control of free movement within the rules.”
  • Peter Hummelgaard (Speaker on EU Affairs, Danish Social Democrats):
    “In Denmark we have an ID card system, we have tried with all our national means to regulate social dumping, as much as we can. Of course we need better EU rules for doing that, but there has been more that a national government can do if it wants to do it.”
  • José Alarcón Hernández (Spanish Director General for Migration) argued that the UK’s light-touch system of labour market regulation had facilitated the large influx of EU labour:
    “The way to regulate the flow of workers is to intervene as governments do in the labour market. That is to say that when a government manages to secure an adequate labour market and working conditions and the workers are happy with what they are being paid and feel valued, normally there is no need for foreign workers to come and fill roles that native workers do not desire.”

The best of the rest – how European states address the four principle public concerns

  • Monitoring and security: Every other EU country has a national ID system. Compulsory registration (Belgium), and better engagement in EU crime systems (Spain)
  • Pressure on public services: ID requirements for public service provision and social assistance (Estonia)
  • Fairness in the Labour Market: Tough, effective enforcement (Switzerland) and training levies and targeted investment (Denmark and Hungary)
  • Integration: Joined up strategy across government, business, and trade unions (Germany)

What the UK should do: recommendations

The UK could address public concerns around immigration within existing free movement rules. The most effective strategies from Europe could and should be adapted and employed in the UK, without discarding the significant benefits afforded to the UK through our close relationship with the EU.

The UK is the only country in Europe not to employ a national ID system2 – this is a mistake that prevents the UK from better controlling free movement. This should be rectified as quickly as possible, and sit at the centre of a new approach.

A new approach to free movement:

  • Monitoring and security: Introduce an electronic ID Card to provide compulsory registration for anyone staying more than 90 days, giving government up to date information on who is living and working in the UK.
  • Pressure on public services and the benefits system: Make a valid e-ID Card a requirement to live, work and access public services and benefits, and use it to release extra funding for public services in areas experiencing surges in migration
  • Fairness in the Labour Market: Proper enforcement squads to crack down on unscrupulous businesses and bring in new protections for British workers
  • Integration: Introduce a turbo-charged Strengthening Communities Fund and boost language and integration provision

The British e-ID card:

Less bureaucracy than now

For most people, the British e-ID card would mean fewer cards since it would replace existing cards like NI cards, driving licenses, and proof of age cards. The card would be free for users – which means young people would pay much less than now since there would be no need to pay for proof of age cards which would instead be loaded onto the electronic card.

Universal streamlined ID for everyone in the UK

Following a phased roll-out, possession of an e-ID card should be compulsory for anyone intending to work, access key services, and/or spend longer than 90 consecutive days in the UK.

Controlling access to public services, benefits and the right to reside and work

Reform access to public services and social benefits so that individuals can easily claim their entitlements and interact with government services, and those without the right of access are prevented from doing so. In particular, the e-ID card would control access to the world of work (replacing the NI number requirement), housing (through tenancy agreements), the benefits system and non-emergency public services through a digitally based verification system, and in doing so would apply the same standards to everybody regardless of race or background.

Monitoring immigration and ensuring local services get the support they need

The e-ID card would provide the first ever database of who is living and working in the UK, ensuring that each citizen is fairly accounted for in the funding of public services. This would allow resources to be quickly, and correctly allocated to areas facing rising migration.

Citizen-first, digital-first approach, controlling data and keeping costs low:

Minimal information, owned by each citizen, anonymised and protected from abuse, with citizens’ rights clearly established and amendable only following full and open debate in parliament. No government official can access an individual’s data without their informed consent. The card would be digital first, and would build on existing infrastructure to keep costs low.

The first part of a new approach to citizenship, guaranteeing the right to vote:

Every British citizen could be automatically registered to vote at the address or place of study listed on the e-ID card, revolutionising access to our democracy.

Final Recommendations

  • Monitoring and security: Introduce an electronic ID Card to provide compulsory registration for anyone staying more than 90 days, giving government up to date information on who is living and working in the UK
  • Pressure on public services and the benefits system: Make a valid e-ID Card a requirement to live, work and access public services and benefits, and use it to release extra funding for public services in areas experiencing surges in migration
  • Fairness in the Labour Market: Proper enforcement squads to crack down on unscrupulous businesses and bring in new protections for British workers
  • Integration: Introduce a turbo-charged Strengthening Communities Fund and boost language and integration provision

The UK is the only EU country to lack an effective national ID system. This should change immediately and form the centre of a new approach to free movement.

  • Less bureaucracy than now
    • Replace existing cards (e.g. National Insurance, driving licence, proof of age) with a single electronic card to prove identity
  • Universal ID for everyone in the UK
    • Compulsory for anyone intending to work, access services, and/or spend longer than 90 days in the UK
  • Controlling access to public services, benefits and the right to live and work in the UK
    • Make possession of an e-ID card a requirement to carry out key processes, preventing illicit access and simplifying existing controls
  • Monitoring immigration and ensuring local services get the support they need
    • Couple the introduction of the card with a registration process for EEA nationals and use address data to detect population shifts
  • Citizen-first, digital-first approach,controlling data and keeping costs low
    • Prevent government access to personal data without informed consent
    • Offer the card free of charge, and promote the cost-effective and convenient digital version first
    • Minimise state costs through use of existing infrastructure (e.g. the ‘Verify’ system) and paid identity verification services
  • The first part of a new approach to citizenship, guaranteeing the right to vote
    • Automatically register every British citizen to vote at the address or place of study listed on the e-ID card
Monitoring and security:

Follow Belgium, Estonia, and other Member States in introducing an e-ID card to provide identification, with compulsory registration for those wishing to work or use public services, and those intending to stay for over 90 days.

  • e-ID card:
    • Compulsory e-ID cards with a general principle that the card is required in order to live, work, and access services and benefits. All EU citizens would be required to register for a card in order to remain in the country longer than 90 days
    • For stays for over 90 days, EU citizens would have to provide evidence of work, self-employment or job-seeking, or comprehensive sickness insurance coupled with sufficient resources to support themselves and their family in order to acquire an e-ID – without one, living and working in the UK would be impossible
    • e-ID card data used by Government to better track movements of EEA citizens into and out of the country, and improve overall data on migratory flows
    • Require the presentation of an e-ID card for every individual renting property for longer than 3 months in order to standardise process for all nationalities, improve population data, and enforce registration
  • Security:
    • Fully engage in European security information systems and become a security leader in Europe.
Pressure on public services and the benefits system:

Follow Estonia in making a valid UK e-ID card a requirement to access public services and benefits, and release extra funding for public services in areas experiencing surges in migration

  • e-ID card:
    • Ensure that all citizens have a valid e-ID card and the right to reside in the UK to register for public services such as a GP
    • Require that those wishing to claim benefits have a valid e-ID card
    • Provisions made for those who lose their card/number, and for rough sleepers and those resistant to authority engagement
  • Responsive funding for public services to minimise perceived negative impacts:
    • Use population data from the e-ID card system to detect migration surges, and use this to trigger funding releases to public services in those areas. Integrate this funding within a new Strengthening Communities Fund (more under Integration)
Fairness in the Labour Market

Follow Switzerland in introducing proper enforcement squads to crack down on unscrupulous businesses and bring in new protections and training for British workers to ensure a level playing-field

  • Tougher enforcement to prevent illicit undercutting on wages/conditions:
    • Introduce a simple online tool for employers and enforcement officers to check right to work status using the e-ID card
    • Fully implement the recommendations made by Sir David Metcalf in the Labour Market Enforcement Strategy 2018/19, including imposing significantly higher fines for non-compliance with the minimum/living wage
    • Introduce new targets for inspectors, potentially under a new powerful Labour Inspectorate, combining the three major enforcement agencies
  • Effective labour regulation to protect workers’ rights:
    • Fully implement the Taylor Review including the introduction of a new ‘dependent contractor’ status to help workers in the gig economy, and clarifying the rights of agency workers
    • Reform the Modern Slavery Act 2015 to improve cross-border accountability
    • Reassess the use of opt-outs from the Working Time Directive and regulation of zero-hours contracts
    • Switzerland have secured a mechanism whereby local vacancies must be advertised to residents first under certain conditions, providing assurances to residents that they have a fair chance of winning local jobs. There is no good reason why Britain cannot do the same
  • Better training to upskill British workers and raise productivity – currently 25% lower than Germany180:
    • Ensure that all 18 year olds with 5 good GCSEs are given the right to a high-quality apprenticeship, and build a reformed Apprenticeship Levy which genuinely upskills the workforce, boosts productivity, and prepares Britain for the jobs of tomorrow
    • Ensure that T-levels provide university-appropriate qualifications
    • Look closely at proposals to devolve skills provision
Integration

Introduce a turbo-charged Strengthening Communities Fund and follow Germany in boosting language and integration provision.

  • Strengthening Communities Fund to support local areas:
    • Replace the Controlling Migration Fund with a turbo-charged Strengthening Communities Fund, backed by significant investment – raising financing which reflects the enormous positive impact that immigrants make to the UK economy
    • Use part of the new fund to ensure that frontline public services in areas experiencing high migration are adequately supported, and that existing residents do not lose out
  • Stronger English language provision and requirements to help migrants gain a foothold in the UK:
    • Raise government funding for ESOL provision to pre-2010 levels, and make English language learning a governmental priority
    • Extend the English language requirement for public-sector workers to include appropriate private-sector contractors
  • Integration provision to ease transitions and review best practice:
    • Hold annual integration summits in conjunction with stakeholders to continually revise government strategies on strengthening communities
    • Introduce low-cost integration courses accessible to EEA and UK citizens alike which foster citizenship and civic duty, and act as a portal to high-quality ESOL teaching
    • Establish a Migration Advisory Service to resolve integration challenges

End Notes

  1. https://www.niesr.ac.uk/sites/…everhulme%20report%20FINAL.pdf
  2. In recent years, Denmark and Ireland (through the Passport Card and Public Services Card) joined the ranks of those with ID systems, leaving the UK as the last remaining country in the EU

 
Download the full report here

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