UKIP Plans Points System, Benefits Ban for Immigrants

The U.K. Independence Party will pledge to introduce an Australian-style points system for immigrants and ban them from claiming any benefits as it seeks to tap voters’ discontent with the number of people entering Britain.

UKIP, polling third with about 15 percent support ahead of the May 7 general election, plans to set up a Migration Control Commission to cut net immigration while still allowing skilled workers into Britain, party leader Nigel Farage will say in a speech in London Wednesday, according to prepared remarks e-mailed by his party.

Net long-term migration into the U.K. rose to 298,000 for the year ending September from 210,000 in the previous 12 months, the Office for National Statistics said in a report last week. Prime Minister David Cameron pledged before he was elected in 2010 to cut net migration to below 100,000 by 2015. UKIP seeks withdrawal from the European Union to give Britain control over the number of migrants.

The current level of immigration “is unsustainable, unfair and unethical,” Farage will say. The new commission will be “tasked with bringing numbers down, and focusing on highly-skilled migrants and our Commonwealth friends -- as opposed to the low-skilled, eastern European migration that the Tories and Labour have expanded.”

Farage told BBC Radio 4’s “Today” program that while he won’t set caps or targets because the U.K. needs “more flexibility than that,” he wants to return levels to the “normality” of 20,000 to 50,000 immigrants a year seen during the five decades through 2000.

‘Zero Control’

“It was a situation that led to us having the best integrated ethnic minorities of any country in Europe and frankly since then we’ve gone mad,” Farage said. “We opened up the doors to much of the world, but in particular we opened up the doors to 10 former communist countries and as a result of our EU membership, we have absolutely zero control over the numbers that come.”

Immigration is the main topic voters think politicians should be talking about ahead of the election, ranking just ahead of the National Health Service, according to polling company YouGov Plc. A YouGov poll for the Times newspaper last week found that 76 percent of people think there has been too much immigration into Britain over the past decade.

Foreign workers classified as “highly skilled” under the new points system would be given five-year visas, after which they would be allowed to apply for permanent leave to remain, according to UKIP. During the five-year period, they would be expected to have their own health insurance, and would be barred from claiming any U.K. benefits.

“I would be happy if our immigration system was based on taking the right people, who would benefit this country regardless of where they come from,” Farage told the BBC.

UKIP said it would also increase the Border Agency’s workforce by 2,500. Farage is due to speak alongside UKIP Deputy Leader Paul Nuttall, and the party’s migration spokesman, Steven Woolfe.

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