In order to cover the country’s public sector pay increase, the taxes and health surcharge paid by visa applicants from all over the world, including Indians, will “significantly” increase, according to Prime Minister Rishi Sunak.
Sunak confirmed a general increase of between 5 and 7 percent. He emphasised that this, however, would not be addressed with increased government borrowing out of concern for further igniting high inflation, and that the costs would have to be found somewhere else.
“If we’re going to prioritise paying public sector workers more, that money has to come from somewhere else because I’m not prepared to put up people’s taxes and I don’t think it would be responsible or right to borrow more because that would just make inflation worse,” Sunak told reporters at a Downing Street press conference.
“So, what we have done are two things to find this money. The first is, we are going to increase the charges that we have for migrants who are coming to this country when they apply for visas and indeed something called the Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS), which is the levy that they pay to access the NHS,” he said.
“All of those fees are going to go up and that will raise over GBP 1 billion, so across the board visa application fees are going to go up significantly and similarly for the IHS,” he added.
Sunak emphasised that this was “entirely right” because the fees had not previously been raised and because the government thought it was necessary given that the costs had increased since the previous increase.
The second measure is to ask government agencies to “reprioritise” in order to reduce the nation’s rising salary expense. He stressed that this would not entail service and job layoffs but rather a shift in priorities.
The IHS, which applies to long-term migrants to the UK including a discounted rate for students, starts from around GBP 470 for a year and rises to thousands of pounds for multiple-year visa applications.
The full details of which categories of visas will face hikes and when the new higher rates come into force are expected to be laid out by the UK Home Office in the coming months.
Source : PTI