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Immigration Health Surcharge Exemption

Volume 678: debated on Monday 13 July 2020

What progress she has made on implementing the immigration health surcharge exemption for NHS and social care workers. (904584)

What progress she has made on implementing the immigration health surcharge exemption for NHS and social care workers. (904587)

What progress she has made on implementing the immigration health surcharge exemption for NHS and social care workers. (904590)

Home Office and Department of Health and Social Care officials are working to implement the surcharge exemption. The Home Office is currently identifying all those on a tier 2 visa who will benefit from a refund, and those payments have already started. Those eligible to apply for the new health and care visa will be exempt from the immigration health surcharge.

I thank the Minister for his answer, but the fact that migrant workers in the NHS and care sector have had to pay the surcharge in the first phase is an insult to their sacrifices, and the fact that the Government are taking so long to implement the Prime Minister’s promise is an added insult. May I ask the Minister how many people have now got the exemption and how many have yet to receive it?

The hon. Member asks how long, but I said in my answer that refund payments had already started, and we will imminently implement the new health and care visa, which will see those on it exempt. So work is continuing, and to be clear, the health surcharge is about creating resources for the NHS and has supported the NHS. We have announced this policy, and we are driving it forward.

Ilford South is a diverse constituency, with 60% of my local population coming from either heritage communities or directly from immigrant communities. An Oxford University study last year found that the net fiscal giving from immigration to our country’s economy between 2001 and 2011 was £25 billion. People in Ilford South are wondering whether the Minister agrees that it was wrong for the Government to act so slowly to move this policy forward and whether they should offer an apology to the people in Ilford South working in our NHS, who are fearful and risking their lives, and not getting the support they deserve from the Government?

I think the people of Ilford South working in the NHS will have been pleased to see the measures that we have taken, not least the fact that we will look to prioritise those coming to work for the NHS under our new visa system.

Key workers kept our country running through the crisis, from doctors and nurses to supermarket assistants and delivery drivers. That is why we clap for them. They all pay their taxes, and they all contribute to the NHS. That is why the NHS surcharge is a discriminatory double tax on migrants. The Government acknowledge that it is wrong to clap for nurses one day and charge them extra the next, so will the Minister extend that principle to all workers and scrap the immigration health surcharge for all?

I will contrast those comments with the comments on the immigration health surcharge from the Labour party during the Immigration Bill Committee. We are clear that our NHS offers fantastic free-at-point-of-need care and services, and it is not unreasonable to ask those who come to this country to make a contribution towards it until they achieve indefinite leave to remain or settlement, which means that they are making a long-term commitment to this country and are therefore exempt from the charge.

Further to the excellent questions already asked, Dr Sadara is just one of the hundreds of clinicians who have already had to pay the immigration health surcharge since the Prime Minister said that it would end, not just for himself and his wife, but twice in six months for his newborn baby daughter. We do not just want these medics to stay in the NHS; we need them to stay in the NHS. The new rules published this morning confirm that the charge will end, but they do not come into effect until January, so can the Minister update the House? When will the surcharge end for health and social care workers, and why do the details published this morning suggest that some will still have to pay it and then be reimbursed?

The details published this morning relate to the new system beyond 1 January. However, to be clear, we will refund those who have paid the charge since 31 March, not just since the time when the Prime Minister made the announcement. We expect to bring in the new health and care visa significantly before 1 January; we are planning to have it in place before 1 October, and people applying for it will not have to pay the surcharge.