The government’s proposal for a points-based immigration policy has provoked fears over its potential impact on social care and community security.
Under the new system, “low-skilled workers” and non-English speakers would not be eligible for visas.
The proposal, unveiled by the home secretary Priti Patel on Wednesday, would come into force on 1 January 2021 in a bid to scrap the country’s reliance on “cheap labour from Europe.”
Points would be allocated for specific skills, qualifications and salaries – and only applicants able to garner 70 points would be allowed visas.
All those seeking to live in the UK would need a job offer and a minimum salary of £25,600 – with exemptions for applicants in “specific shortage occupations,” such as nursing, earning at least £20,480.
The Board of Deputies expressed “some concern” about the policy on Wednesday and the “direct effect” it may have on Britain’s Jewish community.
The organisation’s vice-president Amanda Bowman said: “Many of the security guards and care workers that the Jewish community employs, for example, are EU migrants. The new rules will make it much harder to attract new workers, meaning that costs for organisations which provide security and social care for our community are likely to rise.
“We have relayed these concerns to officials at the Department for Exiting the EU and the Home Office, and is continuing to engage with the Home Office to ensure these issues are taken into account when the new policies come into effect.”
Meanwhile, Dr Edie Friedman, of the Jewish Council for Racial Equality, cast doubt on whether the policy would meet social care demand “already under enormous strain” and “the needs of the country.”
“The way this new policy is being presented is making a statement that these individuals are just economic commodities, wanted only for their skills and not for any cultural or social benefit that they bring to the country,” she said.
“As others have pointed out, how many of our ancestors would have been able to come to Britain under such strict language and income requirements,” she added.
The human rights group’s executive director also suggested seasonal workers on short term visas could be made vulnerable to exploitation and trafficking.
The London-based Jewish author Linda Grant, best known for her Man Booker Prize-shortlisted novel The Clothes on their Backs, waded in on social media.
“Both sets of grandparents were asylum seekers, see @AuschwitzMuseum for likely fate if they hadn’t,” she wrote on Twitter on Wednesday in an apparent reference to her family.