Election 2017: Labour to scrap minimum income rule for foreign spouses

The party's leaked draft manifesto pledges to scrap the controversial threshold

Jon Stone
Political Correspondent
@joncstone
Thursday 11 May 2017 11:50
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The income threshold has separated families on lower incomes
The income threshold has separated families on lower incomes

Labour would scrap the controversial income threshold that separates families and stops thousands of British citizens bringing their foreign husbands and wives to the UK.

The leaked draft version of the party’s manifesto says it does not believe that “family life should be protected only for the wealthy” and that it would replace the threshold with “an obligation to survive without recourse to public funds”.

Immigration rules currently require British citizens to earn more than £18,600 before their foreign partner can join them on a spouse visa. Critics say the policy discriminates against working class people on lower incomes.

The income threshold is even higher for couples with children who are not British citizens, rising to £22,400 for a couple with a first child and then an additional £2,400 for each additional child.

The rule was introduced by the 2010 Coalition government when Theresa May was Home Secretary. It was introduced to reduce the burden on the taxpayer.

Britons have previously told The Independent that they have been forced to move abroad to be with their partners because of the new rule.

In February the Supreme Court upheld the Government’s policy after a legal challenge against it. Seven judges agreeing that the minimum income requirement was “acceptable in principle” – though criticising the lack of safeguards for the welfare of children.

The leaked version of the party’s draft manifesto says: “We believe fair rules mean that a distinction should be made between family connections and migrant labour.

“We do not believe family life should be protected only for the wealthy and so we propose to replace the income thresholds for family attachments with an obligation to survive without recourse to public funds.

“Labour will replace the financial threshold test for family reunion.”

Labour is finalising its manifesto at its so-called Clause V meeting this week, with its official publication due next week. The party says it does not comment on leaks.

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