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We support the amendment. We feel that income thresholds discriminate against working-class people on lower incomes. Around 40% to 50% of UK residents earn less than £18,600. Due to Brexit, the Government plan to extend this threshold requirement to EU citizens. In the Labour party’s 2017 manifesto, we said that we would replace income thresholds with a prohibition on recourse to public funds, which we feel is a more appropriate way forward.
The Government argue that the financial requirement supports integration and prevents a burden from being placed on the taxpayer. It is right that there are controls on who is able to sponsor a partner to come to the UK. The immigration rules already state that anybody who wants to move to the UK to be with their partner or spouse must prove that they are in a genuine, loving relationship and must pass an English test, and they will not have access to benefits when they arrive. However, demanding that the British partner proves that they earn a specific amount on top of the existing rules means that families are being forced apart purely on the basis of income.
An estimated 15,000 children are growing up in Skype families, where the only contact they have with one of their parents is through Skype, because the British parent does not earn enough for the family to live together. Another group affected is the 80% of women in part-time work who do not meet the threshold. Young mothers are particularly badly affected, often being pushed out of the labour force because they have to handle childcare responsibilities alone due to these rules. I believe that these rules have a negative impact on families, on social cohesion and on the economy. They must be changed, so I am happy to support the amendment.