£50 migration charge introduced

By politics.co.uk staff

Non-EU immigrants moving to the UK will have to pay a £50 charge to help sustain local services.

Communities secretary Hazel Blears announced the plan this morning, and stressed the £70 million raised would go towards police support and translation services.

The charge – which applies to those who come to the UK to work or study – comes on top of pre-existing visa costs.

“Where there are impacts as a result of migrants coming in on the local community, we think it’s fair that the migrants themselves should be asked to pay a contribution towards those impacts to make sure that local people don’t feel that they’re really under strain,” Ms Blears said.

But opponents say the funds would make little difference and exacerbate tensions against immigrants during the recession.

Julia Goldsworthy, Liberal Democrat communities spokesperson, said: “Instead of dog-whistle gimmicks, Hazel Blears should be trying to understand the real difficulties facing councils.

Caroline Spelman, the Conservative shadow communities secretary, said: “Rather than tackling the real pressures on local services I fear this announcement is designed to get a headline.

“For a long time councils have been asking for recognition of the pressures put on local services by uncontrolled immigration, for them this announcement may well be too little too late.”

One of the suggestions thrown up by the plan is a scheme universalising translation services across the public sector. Police and hospital translators, for instance, currently operate separately.