Two thirds of the British public say the coronavirus crisis has made them value so called “low-skilled” workers more.
According to the poll conducted by British Future and King’s College London, 64% agree that they value workers in care homes, transport and shops more, with only 9% disagreeing with the sentiment.
A further 70% believe coronavirus shows that immigration makes an important contribution to essential services like the NHS, while 61% believe the government should exempt these workers from minimum salary thresholds needed under new points-based immigration rules.
Meanwhile, just 26% of people agreed with the statement: “the government should set the salary threshold and not allow anyone to move to the UK to work on a lower salary, regardless of the job they are doing.”
And yet Priti Patel’s new immigration policy, approved by MPs yesterday, proposes to do just that – setting a salary threshold for anyone looking to work in the UK.
Sunder Katwala, Director British Future, said:
“There is strong public recognition of the role played in the COVID-19 crisis by lower-paid frontline workers, including migrant workers in the NHS and beyond…
“Much of this public support for migrant contribution, particularly for health and care workers, was already there before the pandemic. Attitudes to immigration have been getting more positive over recent years.
“Public attitudes are pragmatic about how to balance control and contribution. The government will need to strike the right balance too – and accept that people’s value isn’t determined by their salary level.”