Economic cost of UK spouse visa regulation uncovered

10 Jul 2013 | Posted by Carl Thomas

The cost to the British economy of the recent changes to UK spouse visa regulations has been estimated to be in the region of £850 million.

Research undertaken by Middlesex University suggests that over the course of a ten year period, the UK will lose this much due to the tight income restrictions being imposed on British citizens looking to bring foreign spouses into the country.

The government has imposed a minimum income level of £18,600 that British citizens now need to be earning before they can obtain a spouse visa for a non-EEA partner. The minimum income requirement increases for couples supporting children.

Dr Helena Wray, of the university's School of Law and co-author of the research, said that the government appears to have “got its sums wrong” when designing its UK spouse visa policy.

She added: “When the cost-benefit calculations for this policy in the impact assessment are properly carried out, the figures actually show that the income requirement could cost the public purse £850 million over ten years.

"It will not reduce the benefits bill; in fact, it is likely to increase it as single people are more likely to claim benefits than those living with a partner.”

The cost is calculated from lost taxation that would come from migrant partners' earnings. In addition, the policy is predicted to incur extra cost to the taxpayer due to the higher likelihood of single parents who will draw on state welfare if their partner cannot join them in the UK to help raise their family.

The government has disputed the research, however. The Home Office has stated that the £850 million figure is “incorrect” since it includes taxes paid by migrant partners without including their cost to public services.