Some NHS and care workers will still pay the ‘immigration surcharge’, prompting an accusation that Boris Johnson’s pledge to exempt them is “a cynical broken promise”, our deputy political editor Rob Merrick reports.
The controversial fees will be levied if staff take a different job within six months – hitting lower-paid cleaners, porters and carers, especially on zero-hours contracts, it is feared.
The prime minister made no mention of the loophole when he was forced, in May, to grant the exemption, after The Independent exposed Priti Patel’s phoney “review” into the controversy.
Ministers have also sparked anger by claiming the six-month stipulation is needed to give health and care staff “an incentive to continue working”.
The public services union UNISON warned that “low-paid NHS and social care workers risk missing out on reimbursements”, after the detail was revealed, with its assistant general secretary telling The Independent: “This applies especially to those on zero hour contracts or who move jobs.
“Ministers say they’ll get their surcharge fees back, but only after six months. This is no way to treat those who’ve been at the forefront of the fight against coronavirus from the off.”
And Holly Lynch, Labour’s shadow immigration minister, said: “It’s clear that it’s a million miles from the spirit of what the prime minister promised. This is a cynical broken promise. The government must honour its commitment to dedicated care workers who have put their lives on the line during this crisis.”