Want to crack Britain’s immigration conundrum? Devolve control to cities

Want to crack Britain's immigration conundrum? Devolve control to cities

Welcome to Refresh – a series of comment pieces by young people, for young people,  to provide a free-market response to Britain’s biggest issues 

Last year, net migration to the UK was 273,000. The policy over who comes to live, work and settle here largely remains the control of Westminster. That is, for non-European Economic Area (EEA) nationals. EEA nationals currently can come under EU free movement rules. It means they can live, work and study in any other member state.

Nothing substantial has been devolved to the regions apart from the Shortage Occupation List – which is only devolved to Scotland. This is where an employer can offer a job to a non-EU national without first advertising it to the rest of the country. Only highly-skilled jobs are on this list. They include mechanical engineers and medical practitioners.

A number of notable figures, such as Nicola Sturgeon, the Scottish first minister, have come out in support of more devolution of immigration policy to the regions. This, she says, will better reflect the local wishes and needs. But this does not go far enough. Immigration policy must be devolved to the big cities.

There are a number of reasons why. First, it gives local people greater control over the policy and allows local politicians to be held accountable. Cities would be encouraged to only admit the number of low-skilled or semi-skilled migrants they needed. If there were too many low-skilled workers, a temporary block could be implemented for that particular city. As it’s more local, people from the area could challenge the decision more effectively at election time.

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