Home Office: Government to press on with £200 migrant 'tax' despite public opposition
Tuesday 22 October 2013
The Government is to press on with a £200 health levy for temporary migrants despite its own consultation revealing nearly two-thirds of the public disagree with the move.
In a Home Office consultation, 65% of all public respondents disagreed that temporary migrants, such as students, should make a contribution to healthcare costs, while 77% of organisations did not back the move either.
However, 66% of health sector respondents felt temporary migrants and their dependents should pay towards healthcare.
Responding to the outcome, the Home Office said: "We have considered all responses to these questions carefully but remain convinced that only permanent migrants should be automatically eligible for free NHS care."
Under the proposals, temporary migrants from outside the European Economic Area (EEA), including those on a route to settlement in the UK, will face a healthcare surcharge of around £150 per year for students and around £200 per year for others.
Elsewhere, more than two-thirds of all respondents disagreed that access to free NHS services should be based on permanent residence in the UK.
Around a fifth of respondents believed a health levy would be the most effective means of contributing to public health services, while only a quarter supported setting the charge at £200 a year.
Some respondents felt everyone should receive NHS care free of charge while others noted that temporary migrants may already be contributing to public services and the wider economy through payment of tax and National Insurance if working in the UK.
As a result, any additional charges for NHS services may result in them being double-charged, the respondents said.
There were also concerns among respondents that the proposals could lead to breaches of human rights or a discriminatory approach to healthcare.
Other respondents believed temporary migrants are unlikely to make large demands on UK health services, and should therefore not be charged.
In the consultation foreword, the Home Secretary Theresa May said: "These proposals respond to longstanding public concern that the current rules regulating migrant access to the NHS are too generous, particularly when compared with wider international practice, poorly applied and act as a draw to health tourists."
Paying the surcharge will be a precondition of entry and stay for temporary migrants, the Home Office said.
It will be paid upfront for each year of leave granted, so this would mean that a student coming to the UK for three years would pay three times the annual surcharge rate at the same time as their application for entry clearance.
Migrants granted leave to enter or remain for less than a year will pay the surcharge on a pro-rata basis, calculated on the basis of how many months of stay they are granted.
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