The UK Government has been accused of "playing roulette with essential services" after bringing in tough new measures to curb immigration. 

They include hiking the minimum salary requirement for a skilled worker from outside the UK to £38,700.

The change, announced by Home Secretary James Cleverly in the Commons on Monday, is a significant jump on the current level of £26,200.

The SNP described it as "economic vandalism," while Unison warned it could lead to a "collapse" in the care sector. 

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Last month, revised figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) revealed that net migration to Britain in 2022 was at a record high, with 745,000 more people arriving than leaving.

Setting out a new five-point plan to try and bring that number down, the Home Secretary said the increase in earning requirements would "stop immigration undercutting the salary of British workers."

He said there would be an exception for those coming into the UK on health and social care visa routes, but that care workers will no longer be allowed to bring their dependants.

The Home Secretary added that the annual immigration health surcharge would also be hiked.

He told MPs: “Approximately 120,000 dependants accompanied 100,000 care workers and senior care workers in the year ending September 2023. Only 25% of dependants are estimated to be in work, meaning a significant number are drawing on public services rather than helping to grow the economy.

“We recognise that foreign workers do great work in our NHS and health sector, but it is also important that migrants make a big enough financial contribution.

“Therefore, we will increase annual immigration surcharge this year by 66% from £624 to £1,035 to raise on average around £1.3 billion for the health services of this country every year.”

The other measures included an overhaul of the shortage occupation list, which details which jobs can currently be filled by foreign workers paid 20% less than the official "going rate" that employers would otherwise have to pay.

Mr Cleverly said that discount would now come to an end.

There will also be a huge rise in the minimum salary level for a family visa, up from £18,600 to £38,700.

That would be the least amount a British citizen would need to earn to marry someone from overseas and live with them in the UK.

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Stephen Flynn, the SNP's Westminster leader said there was no "rational justification" for the measures. 

"Both public and private sector badly need migrant workers. Our communities are enriched by their presence. Economic and cultural vandalism," he wrote on X, the site formerly known as Twitter.

Labour's Shadow Home Secretary, Yvette Cooper said the plan was "another example of the total chaos at the heart of this Government."

“Net migration has trebled since the last election – since the Conservatives promised to reduce it – and it’s trebled as a result of their policies on the economy and on immigration, including the Prime Minister’s policy decisions.

“In a chaotic panic the Prime Minister now opposes the policies he introduced and thinks that their own decisions are a problem, but who does the Home Secretary think has been in charge for the last 13 years? More chaos, more veering all over the place.”

Unison's General Secretary, Christina McAnea, said there was now a risk care services could collapse.

The trade union leader said: “Migrant workers were encouraged to come here because both sectors are critically short of staff. Hospitals and care homes simply couldn’t function without them.

“There’s also a global shortage of healthcare staff. Migrants will now head to more-welcoming countries, rather than be forced to live without their families.

“The Government is playing roulette with essential services just to placate its backbenchers and the far right.

“But if ministers stopped ducking the difficult issues and reformed social care, as they’ve long promised, there wouldn’t be such a shortage of workers.

“None of this is rocket science. Fund care properly and raise wages, and the sector becomes a more attractive place to work, but take away the migrant workers currently stopping care from going under and it collapses.”

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Meanwhile, Conservative MPs should be "shitting themselves" about the threat to their seats from Reform UK at the next general election, its leader has warned.

Richard Tice told PoliticsHome his party intended to fight the next general election as an "immigration election."

"The last one was 'get Brexit done', the next will be an immigration election," he said.