Cameron plans to drop visa that saved his children's nanny

Immigration policy would put foreign domestic workers at the mercy of abusive employers

David and Samantha Cameron recruited their nanny from a charity that helps immigrants to escape abusive bosses, The Independent on Sunday has learnt.

The news comes as the Government considers abolishing a visa which until now has enabled people such as Gita Lima to change employers to escape exploitative work. Under proposed new rules it would not be possible for women like her to work for anyone other than the employer who brought her into the country.

Ms Lima, originally from Nepal, has been working for the Cameron family for years. She was recruited after the Camerons advertised the position with the charity Kalayaan, which specialises in helping migrant domestic workers fleeing exploitation or abusive employers.

Ms Lima helped to care for the couple's severely disabled son Ivan, who died in 2009. She is understood to have been going through the process of getting permanent immigration status last year.

On Tuesday, the Government will mark Anti-Slavery Day by trumpeting its desire to combat people-trafficking, with David Cameron hosting a tea at No 10 to honour the occasion on Wednesday. But critics say the Government's proposed immigration policies would leave foreign domestic workers more vulnerable.

Jenny Moss, a community worker at Kalayaan, said: "Mr Cameron clearly understands the issues faced by migrant domestic workers and the reason why the right to change employer is so important to protect them from violence and exploitation. It seems as though he either does not know about the policies proposed in the Home Office, or he has not made the connection between his government's proposals and the horrific consequences they could have for people like his own nanny."

A UK Border Agency consultation which closed last month proposed ending the visa for overseas domestic workers or keeping it but removing the right to change employer or seek settlement in the UK. The overseas domestic workers visa was introduced in 1998 with the specific purpose of protecting this vulnerable group, who are easy prey for abuse and enslavement as they are usually brought in alone by their employers.

The proposal is part of the Government's pledge to cut net migration to tens of thousands by 2015. According to the proposal, if the visas are kept, it would be under the proviso that they could not be transferred to a new employer or end in long-term settlement in the UK, making it much harder to escape abusive bosses. If enacted, it would mean employers such as the Camerons would not be able to give people a second chance at a working life in the UK.

Research by Kalayaan suggests specific visa protections curbed the abuse suffered by domestic workers. A survey two years before the visas came in found that 89 per cent were working seven days a week; 100 per cent were working an average of 17 hours a day; 87 per cent were psychologically abused; and 39 per cent physically assaulted. In 2010, when the visa had been in place for 12 years, the number subjected to serious abuse had declined, with 54 per cent suffering psychological abuse, and 18 per cent experiencing physical abuse.

A Downing Street spokesman said the issue was "a private matter", adding: "We need an immigration system that is fairer and more honest. At the same time, the Government remains committed to tackling illegal immigration and human trafficking."

Audrey Guichon, an expert on domestic workers at Anti-Slavery International, said: "The Government knows that prior to the introduction of the domestic worker visa there were appalling levels of abuse experienced by migrant domestic workers in the UK. Reductions in abuse were specifically due to the introduction of the visa and the protection it offered, especially the right to change employers."

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Sport
Luis Suarez looks towards the crowd during the 2-1 victory over England
sport
Life and Style
Cheesecake frozen yoghurt by Constance and Mathilde Lorenzi
food + drinkThink outside the cool box for this summer’s frozen treats
News
John Barrowman kisses his male “bride” at a mock Gretna Green during the Commonwealth Games opening ceremony
peopleBarrowman's opening ceremony message to Commonwealth countries where he would be sent to prison for being gay
Sport
Sir Bradley Wiggins removes his silver medal after the podium ceremony for the men’s 4,000m team pursuit in Glasgow yesterday
Commonwealth games Disappointment for Sir Bradley in team pursuit final as England are forced to settle for silver
Sport
Alistair Brownlee (right) celebrates with his gold medal after winning the men’s triathlon alongside brother Jonny (left), who got silver
England's Jodie Stimpson won the women’s triathlon in the morning
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

SQL Report Analyst (SSRS, CA, SQL 2012)

£30000 - £38500 Per Annum + 25 days holiday, pension, subsidised restaurant: C...

Application Support Analyst (SQL, Incident Management, SLAs)

£34000 - £37000 Per Annum + excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Lt...

Embedded Software / Firmware Engineer

£40000 - £45000 per annum + Pension, Holiday, Flexi-time: Progressive Recruitm...

Developer - WinForms, C#

£280 - £320 per day: Progressive Recruitment: C#, WinForms, Desktop Developmen...

Day In a Page

Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
10 best reed diffusers

Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little
Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

Screwing your way to the top?

Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones: Are custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?

The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones

Earphones don't fit properly, offer mediocre audio quality and can even be painful. So the quest to design the perfect pair is music to Seth Stevenson's ears
US Army's shooting star: Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform

Meet the US Army's shooting star

Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform