Health surcharge included in Immigration Bill

10 Oct 13
Ministers have set out plans to charge some immigrants a ‘health surcharge’ to cover the costs of any NHS treatment they receive during their stay

By Richard Johnstone | 10 October 2013

Ministers have set out plans to charge some immigrants a ‘health surcharge’ to cover the costs of any NHS treatment they receive during their stay.

nder the Immigration Bill, published by the Home Office today, all people from outside the European Economic Area given temporary visas for more than six months would need to pay the fee before they enter the country. This would allow them to access health services free at the point of use. The level of the charge is yet to be set. 

People who hold a visa for less than six months will be charged for health services as they use them. This group is currently able to receive free primary NHS care but have to pay for any secondary care.

The Bill also requires private landlords to check on the immigration status of their tenants and banks will be asked to confirm people’s rights to remain before allowing them to open new accounts.

The measures in the Bill will stop migrants using public services to which they are not entitled, and reduce the incentives for people to move to the UK, immigration minister Mark Harper said.

Today’s legislation forms the next step in the coalition’s attempts to cut net migration, which has fallen by a third since 2010, he added. 

‘We will continue to welcome the brightest and best migrants who want to contribute to our economy and society and play by the rules. But the law must be on the side of people who respect it, not those who break it.’

The introduction of the health service levy was key to building a fairer immigration system, Harper added. 

‘We have been clear that the UK has a national health service, not an international health service. These proposals will ensure that migrants here temporarily make a fair contribution to the cost of health services in the UK.’

Responding to the call for landlords to check the status of tenants, the British Property Federation warned they were ‘not skilled immigration officers’.

It said the legislation was disproportionate, as it could see landlords prosecuted for failing to recognise complex immigration documents. The system would require every tenant, including all UK citizens, to be checked at a cost of £156.5m over three years, the federation stated.

BPF policy director Ian Fletcher called for a ‘sunset clause’ to be placed in the regulations so their effectiveness could be reviewed after three years. 

‘It would be reckless to proceed with these proposals without testing this central assumption that landlords will recognise a wide array of documents.

‘The government has said it will consider ways of making these regulations as light-touch as possible and we hope that they will consider a different check for students, who already face significant additional checks as part of their application process.’

Shadow immigration minister David Hanson said the Bill would not address some of the biggest issues surrounding immigration such as problems at border controls or exploitation in the labour market.


CIPFA logo

PF Jobsite logo

Did you enjoy this article?