The Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) has released its annual report, delving into net migration in the year leading up to June 2022.

The MAC is an independent body that works diligently to provide unbiased advice and support the government on migration-related matters. Every year, a comprehensive report detailing their work across all facets of immigration system is made available for Parliament as well as the public – offering insight into what progress has been achieved with key findings and recommendations throughout. This year marks the third consecutive annual report from MAC under its new framework, established in 2020.

The MAC’s report confirms a significant and consistent need for overseas labour in the UK job market. With unprecedented levels of vacancies, employers may be relying heavily on employing people from outside Britain to fill these roles. Although the committee is urging caution, they worry that in creating new low-wage visa routes governments could be stepping backwards on their commitment to end Freedom of Movement. This also has potential consequences such as exposing migrants to exploitation.

Here are some of the highlights from annual report of 2022.

UK Immigration in 2022

Despite a dip in the previous two years, net migration to the UK during 12 months has reached 504,000 leading up to June 2022 increased by an astonishing 331,000 people – making it one of highest recorded levels since records began.

Despite the surge in migration seen due to new visa implementations, the MAC indicates that this won’t last long, with a gradual fall off of applications expected over time and eventually leading to outflows.

Employers are taking advantage of the excellent job climate and addressing staffing gaps by hiring from abroad. Employers and foreign applicants alike can benefit from the flexible nature of work routes, easily expanding or downsizing as needed to accommodate ever-changing economic conditions.

With the labour market set to weaken in upcoming months, MAC predicts a decrease in work visa applications. Remarkably, much of the rise recorded over recent years has been due to government action.

Migrant Exploitation in the Labour Market

This year, the Migrant Advisory Committee (MAC) is calling attention to widespread exploitation of migrants throughout our labour market. They are highlighting how systemic issues in immigration policies can create a disturbance and leave people vulnerable to labour market exploitation.

Immigration fees can trap migrants in ‘debt bondage’, leaving them vulnerable to exploitation and abuse. The MAC report revealed that some immigrants have found themselves unable to leave these situations due to their financial constraints.

The MAC cautions against restricting the movement of migrant workers in low-wage industries due to higher risks of mistreatment and under payment.

MAC suggests that the Government should not be swayed by requests to hastily issue visas without a justifiable economic basis, as this could reverse its recent decision on Freedom of Movement.

Adult Social Care

in April 2020 the MAC released an insightful report with 19 key recommendations for Adult Social Care Sector. These suggestions covered areas such as pay and conditions, workforce strategy and immigration policy for social care.

The recommendation to increase wages for care workers, beyond the legal minimum rate of pay had been proposed in an effort to reward and incentivize these invaluable members of society.

The MAC has proposed an innovative plan for granting Health and Care Workers indefinite access to visas, along with the elimination of the Immigration Skills Charge.

Despite the MAC’s urgent call-to-action, 2022 annual report finds that social care troubles have only intensified. The government has yet to take any steps towards implementing its prescribed solutions as tensions continue to rise across.

Rural Visa Pilot

An insightful chapter of the 2022 report delves into how geography has an impact on how people interact with and view UK immigration. It examines what role migration could play in overcoming some of today’s most pressing demographic issues.

The MAC recognizes migration as a potential solution for tackling the complexities of global demographic shifts. Nonetheless, it underlines that this should always be seen within the broader perspective of an effective overall strategy. To tackle declining populations in rural areas, the MAC has proposed a pilot visa program to measure its potential effectiveness.

Shortage Occupation List

In 2022, the Home Office called on the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) to take a fresh look at the Shortage Occupation List (SOL). The SOL identifies professions with a lack of suitable applicants on the local labour market, making it easier for employers to access skilled international workers and fill their vacancies quickly. The MAC provides expert insight to the Home Office on which roles are in need of extra staffing.

The Migration Advisory Committee is waiting on the government to provide clarity around their migration policies, before proceeding with its latest review. The MAC has urged for a decision sooner rather than later, so it can move ahead in completing this commission.

Smith Stone Walters is keenly tracking the Home Office’s response to a report and will keep our eye on it for further developments.