MAC has issued its recommendations for revised maintenance levels for sponsoring family members which should be cause for extreme concern amongst campaigners and human rights activists.
MAC was basically tasked with calculating the income needed to support family without ‘becoming a burden on the state’ ( it is worth clarifying of course to lay readers that migrant spouses/partners and dependants are inelligible for non-contributory benefits in the UK until they secure settled status, and that they need to show that they have maintenance of an equivalent value which for a partner or spouse is in the region of about £13,000, and appropriate accommodation at which their spouse/partner can live in). The Government is of course not bound by these recommendations, but is of course highly likely to attempt to follow them when it comes to put together its Rule changes shortly (we’ve briefed civil servants in the recent consultation against this).
On spouses and partners MAC’s report states:
5.7 … we recommend that the income threshold to sponsor a spouse or partner be set between £18,600 and £25,700 gross per year. Again, this range relates to gross income received in the UK by the sponsor only, without deducting housing costs. This recommendation is based on economic considerations alone and is not made with reference to wider legal, social or moral issues.
5.8 It is important to emphasise that the discussion above relies on the assumption that the income of the sponsor’s spouse/partner is not taken into account when calculating the sponsor’s family’s income that is to be assessed against the threshold.
There are corresponding and proposed increases for dependants, also. The report goes on to note:
We estimate that nearly two thirds of sponsors would not have sufficient gross income to meet the higher of these thresholds.
On dependants there are differing approaches to calculation. We have reproduced the tables from the report to give you some idea of how they look:
|Table 4.4: Income threshold adjusted for the number of dependent children under options 4 to 8, under two assumptions regarding the number of adults in the household|
|Option in section 4.4||Income threshold (£)|
|One-adult household||Two-adult household|
|One child||Two children||Three children||One child||Two children||Three children|
|Table 4.6: Required adjustment to the income thresholds calculated in section 4.4 to account for the number of dependent children, under two scenarios regarding the number of adults in the household|
|Assumption||Number of dependent children|
|Table 4.7: Required adjustment to the income thresholds calculated in section 4.4 to account for the number of other dependants, under two scenarios regarding the number of adults in the household|
|Assumption||Number of other dependants|
The Guardian in its report notes:
Almost 50,000 family visas are granted to immediate relatives of British residents every year.
The lower threshold of £18,700, set at the point at which somebody is no longer eligible to claim welfare benefits, would exclude 45% – about 22,500 people – from bringing their husband, wife or children into the country to live with them. The higher threshold of £25,700 would exclude 63%, about 33,000, from applying for a family visa.
The advisory committee said about 25% of the British population in full-time work would be excluded by the new lower limit and around 50% of the working population would be barred from bringing in their foreign-born wives or husbands under the proposals.
For those wishing to bring in a wife and two children, the minimum threshold would be set at between £24,800 and £47,600 in order for them not to be a burden on the state.