WBG responds to Government’s five-point immigration plan

Date Posted: Wednesday 6th December 2023

EmploymentMigrant womenSocial Care

Responding to the Home Secretary’s speech on the five-point immigration plan, Dr Mary-Ann Stephenson, Director of the Women’s Budget Group said,

“Like so many others, we are seriously concerned about the impact that the hastily announced five-point plan for immigration will have on millions of families lives across the UK. The lack of consideration taken to its impact on gender equality will also result in a disproportionate impact on women.

The income threshold for skilled worker visas and to bring dependents into the country has been more than doubled to £38,700. This is significantly above women’s current median earnings, which stand at £25,531 for all women and £32,708 for women working full time. Although men earn significantly more than women, they still don’t manage to hit this threshold with median earnings for all men standing at £34,632 and £35,516 for those working full-time.[1] And we know that this will further impact Black, Asian and Ethnic Minority workers who are paid an average of 5.7% less than White British workers (£0.90 less per hour) across all industries. It is absolutely nonsensical that the earnings threshold has been set at a rate that the average UK worker would be unable to meet.

The £38,700 earnings threshold does not apply to health and social care workers. The care workforce  is mostly female (80-82%) and low-paid, with median earnings for female care workers at £28,700 for full-time work and £14,414 for part-time work.[2] However, the ban on overseas care workers bringing dependents with them is going to have a detrimental impact on the workforce and their families. It is wrong that we are asking people to come and care for our loved ones, while preventing them from caring for their own families.

This decision also risks increasing the already huge burden of labour shortages on the sector. In turn this will have a further disproportionate impact on women, who are more likely to step in and increase the level of unpaid care they provide when formal care collapses, impacting their own labour market participation levels and long-term economic prospects.

The Government needs to stop playing politics with our health and social care system and instead implement the long anticipated and desperately needed reforms before it buckles under the pressure of underfunding and labour shortages.”

WBG spokespeople available for comment, contact

erin.mansell@wbg.org.uk / press@wbg.org.uk

About the Women’s Budget Group

The UK Women’s Budget Group (WBG) is the UK’s leading feminist economics think tank, providing evidence and analysis on women’s economic position and proposing policy alternatives for a gender-equal economy. We act as a link between academia, the women’s voluntary sector and progressive economic think tanks.


[1] ONS, 2023, Employee earnings in the UK: 2023 (https://tinyurl.com/ydsp5pxp)

[2] ONS, 2023, Earnings and Hours Worked, UK Region by Industry by Two-Digit SIC: ASHE Table 5 (https://www.ons.gov.uk/datasets/ashe-table-5/editions/time-series/versions/5)