Priti Patel has unveiled the new points system intended to draw the ‘brightest and the best’ to the U.K. Thus calling an end to the age of free movement on December 31st. According to the policy paper available online, on January 1st 2021 members from the “EU and non-EU citizens will be treated equally.”
However, let us discuss the what the policy intends to enact. You need to have 70 points in order to qualify to gain entry in to the U.K. There are 9 characteristics according to the policy paper. Some with exchangeable points so for example, if you did not meet the criteria the desired pay grade of above £25,600 pr year (with the absolute minimum being £20,480 but gets you no points) you can still gain points if the job you are going to is one of shortage occupation (so jobs like civil engineers or social workers). There are 3 characteristics that are absolutes:
- offer of job
- job of appropriate skill
- the ability to speak English
Priti Patel has also declared that there are over 8 million economically inactive within the U.K and that there should also be a drive to get these people into work as well. These include, the retired, the long-term sick and those who are carers.
Yes, I do agree that those who are able should work. I stress, those who are able. I take a stand against the tone that is an undercurrent to this new direction, that there is a laziness that needs to be addressed. As if, for some people they need to be shoe-horned into productivity all for the sake of economic growth.
This is the reality that we are now in. It’s one that undervalues many of the sectors that people work tirelessly in and are shockingly underpaid. I believe it tells us that for the many people who already work full-time hours, but still do not earn enough to feed their families or keep their homes, that it is entirely their fault. It’s not the fact that wages have not kept up with (INFLATION) how incredibly expensive living has become or that the renting a descent home is no longer by product but a luxury. It does not truly high-light the inequalities of our society.
I have not touched the fact that without “low skilled” workers many sectors would have collapsed already, for example adult social care. Or the fact that immigration has already brought in some of the best, because lets face it, our NHS would have already collapsed. That without those who are deemed low skilled, many businesses would struggle and fail because many of the ‘native’ British do not want those jobs such as fruit picking. I believe these are all points that we are well aware of and the reality that many of us already accept.
Now this is where it really hurts. This is when it gets personal.
In the face of this policy, I come up against the truth that I would not make up the 70 points needed to enter the U.K. Why should this be a problem since I already live and work here and hold a British passport, I hear you ask.
Like I said earlier, it’s about the tone underneath the surface. If this country REALLY wanted to do something about immigration, they could have done so while remaining apart of the E.U. The need to control our borders was one born out of fear-mongering (thanks Nigel Farage) and this clamp down is really, in essence, this government flexing its muscles to the rest of the world. It is also places people like me, who have families and work full-time hours but in a low paid job in an interesting and uncomfortable position. I am teaching assistant working in a school. I truly love my job and for the moment it offers me the best of both worlds, working towards the goal of becoming a teacher one day (if I desire) as well as being available to raise my family without the crippling costs of childcare.
I acknowledge that I am in a privileged position as my partner earns enough that I do not have the pressure of having to earn what the government deems as the lowest acceptable wage.
But I have to be honest, this new turn suddenly makes me feel like I am not productive enough. That my dual roles are not worth this government’s consideration. It should not matter but it does. It is clear that quality of life is not part of this Conservative’s agenda. It does not seek to address the balance that there is a need for families to both able to work and be together. Or for those who do not have families to not have to work themselves to the bone to be able to afford a place to live or simply enjoy life. Do not mistake this as a wish for Utopian society. It is about again the reality of life that many people live in. Like, not every job comes with a decent wage, or have decent contracts (zero hours). Or the fact that just because you have a degree it garantees a higher paying job.
So what does this mean?
I believe that there is a disconnect between the lives of ordinary people and parliament of course, there always has been. However, this current divide to me seems to be widening further and further. It is with sadness that I look upon what is happening within our borders. Our current prime minister is well…I am going to leave it there because I have no kind words to say. Our education, healthcare and vital services are beyond the need of crutches. The atmosphere at times can only be described as volatile. And still, it makes it strange to say that I am in fact still proud to be a part of this country, even if in theory, it does not want me.
My only option is to proudly state that not only am I the daughter of an immigrant, I am one myself (I came here when I was just over a year old), a graduate, a mother, an aspiring writer but that I am too, A LOW SKILLED WORKER.