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Home Secretary pressed by DUP over salary threshold for skilled migrant workers

DUP leader Arlene Foster meets Home Secretary Sajid Javid yesterday
DUP leader Arlene Foster meets Home Secretary Sajid Javid yesterday

By Staff Reporter

Arlene Foster said she held a "useful discussion" with Home Secretary Sajid Javid over immigration and the development of the economy after Brexit.

The DUP chief told the Tory leadership contender that a recommended salary threshold of £30,000 for skilled migrants coming to the UK is too high for Northern Ireland, particularly in the agri-food and hospitality sectors.

Mr Javid met business leaders in Belfast to hear their concerns about the situation.

Mrs Foster said the Home Secretary had agreed to look at the issue of regional pay.

"Previously, the Migration Advisory Committee had recommended a salary threshold of £30,000 for skilled migrants coming to the UK.

"This is a high threshold which is not reflective of the labour market in Northern Ireland or some other UK regions," she said.

"It is important that Northern Ireland has access to the skills necessary to develop our economy in the future and the Home Secretary is fully engaged on that issue.

"It was particularly appropriate that our meeting took place in the Grand Central Hotel, one of Belfast's newest developments and provided Mr Javid with an opportunity to see how the skyline of Belfast is changing and the potential we have for the future."

Mrs Foster said she discussed "the importance of the four nations of the United Kingdom moving forward as one country" with the Home Secretary.

"Together the United Kingdom is more than just the sum of its parts and it is important that we leave the European Union in a way which benefits all parts of the UK," she added.

Meanwhile, the Home Office has disclosed that more than 750,000 people have applied to secure their post-Brexit status in the UK. Official figures show that, as of the end of last month, more than 100,000 Poles had applied - the highest of any nationality.

Poles were followed by Romanian (89,800) and Italian (70,800) nationals.

Slovenia and Luxembourg had the lowest numbers of applicants of EU states, with 700 and 200 respectively. 

The majority of applications were received from England (573,600), with 31,400 from Scotland, 9,300 from Wales and 6,500 from Northern Ireland. 

Mr Javid said: "EU citizens are our friends, neighbours and colleagues who contribute so much to this country.

"Whatever the outcome of Brexit, we want them to stay." 

He added: "Our free and straightforward EU settlement scheme has already seen 750,000 applications, which is immensely encouraging.

"I hope this early success continues in the coming months."

Belfast Telegraph

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