The government has confirmed that the NHS and other UK employers that recruit nurses from overseas will be subject to a future levy designed to discourage the use of migrant workers.
In March, the government said it was pressing ahead with plans set out in the autumn to reduce reliance on migrant workers and “upskill British workers” through a new skills charge.
The Immigration Skills Charge, to be introduced in April 2017, will be levied on employers that employ migrants in skilled areas from outside of the European Union and Scandinavia.
It will be set at £1,000 per employee per year, with a reduced rate of £364 for small or charitable organisations.
The new charge was supported by the independent Migration Advisory Committee, which was asked by the government to advise on routes used to undertake work in the UK, including the tier 2 visa for those undertaking skilled work in the UK from outside the European Economic Area.
Andrew Smith, Labour MP for Oxford East, recently called on the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills to clarify whether the plans for the proposed £1,000 charge would apply to NHS nurses.
In a written answer on Monday, Skills minister Nick Boles said: “The Immigration Skills Charge will be paid by UK employers recruiting skilled migrant labour from outside the European Economic Area. This includes employers of nurses.
“There will be a flat rate of £1,000 per tier 2 migrant sponsored per year,” he said. “Some public sector employers could benefit from the small and charitable sponsors reduced rate of £364 per tier 2 migrant sponsored per year.
Mr Boles added: “As the independent Migration Advisory Committee stated in their January 2016 report on tier 2, public sector organisations are employers like any other and should be incentivised to consider the UK labour market first, before recruiting outside Europe.”