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Migration plan 'would harm economy'

The Government's plans to stop tens of thousands of migrants from settling in the UK are misguided, impractical and likely to damage the economy and society, a think-tank has said.

The Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) said the "radical policy shift" would essentially rule out settlement for all but the most wealthy economic migrants from outside the EU.

Announcing the plans to create a clearer distinction between temporary and permanent routes into the UK in June, immigration minister Damian Green said the UK needed to be "more selective about who we allow to stay".

The number of people granted settlement in the UK reached an all-time high in the 12 months to last September, up 35% from the previous year to 238,950 - the highest level since records began in 1960, Home Office figures showed.

Skilled workers coming to the UK from outside the EU, predominantly as a means of filling short-term skills shortages, "should expect to leave the UK after a maximum of five years", Mr Green said.

Temporary workers could be restricted to 12-month stays "to reinforce the temporary nature of the route".

The IPPR report found the moves would reduce the number of non-EU economic migrants settling each year from about 40,000 to about 1,000.

"For those who care only about reducing net migration, trying to keep settlement to a minimum makes sense," it said.

"But for anyone who cares about Britain's ability to continue to attract the 'brightest and best', about the impact on the economy as we try to grow our way out of recession, and about the effects on integration within our society, these proposals raise real concerns."

It went on: "The proposals are unlikely to work; they are also misguided. As it stands, the UK's proposed approach is impractical, likely to be damaging in economic and social terms, and - unusually for a 'tough' immigration policy - may even prove unpopular."

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