UK gov. attempt to further abuse immigrant workers comes under fire
Doctors in Unite says it was "appalled" by the UK government's move to increase the amount migrant workers pay to use the state healthcare service.
The UK's oldest medical union on Saturday lashed out at government plans to increase the amount migrant workers pay to use the state healthcare service to cover public-sector wage increases.
UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak's government this week approved recommendations to increase wages of teachers, doctors, and police by between 5.0 to 7.0%.
Sunak ruled out tax increases or government borrowing to fund the boost but instead indicated that hikes in the Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS) and visa fees would raise £1 billion.
Doctors in Unite, which represents junior doctors, general practitioners, and hospital consultants, pointed out that it was "appalled" by the move, as it would see migrants pay double to use the National Health Service (NHS).
Most employees in the UK have National Insurance contributions deducted from their salaries to pay for the NHS, as well as state pension and unemployment schemes.
"Just like other workers, migrants contribute to NHS funding through general taxation. Doubling the NHS surcharge to over £1,200 ($1,570) per year is an unjust additional penalty," Doctors in Unite said.
The medical union noted that "migrants are effectively 'taxed twice' to access the same service," deeming the move "immoral and divisive."
The IHS, initially placed to prevent "medical tourism", is now paid by most migrants under tighter post-Brexit entry rules. It is paid per person in addition to visa fees for stays of more than six months.
Over-18s pay £624 per year while students and under-18s pay £470 per year. The government has proposed raising the IHS for adults to £1,035, and £776 at the reduced rate.
Work and visit visas will go up by 15%, while the cost of student and leave-to-remain visas among others will rise by at least 20%.
This comes as net migration in the UK hit a record 606,000 in 2022, according to official figures released in May, pressuring the government, which has vowed to cut dependency on foreign labor.
Critics warn the IHS increases -- paid for by individuals or their companies -- could worsen under-staffing in many sectors and cause high-skilled workers and students to leave the country.