Jeremy Hunt talked of “social responsibility” as he defended the Tories plans to make businesses pay more to hire foreign workers on the Today programme.
The Health Secretary said it was a matter of “fairness” that employers who benefit from immigration they should make a contribution to training British workers. He said:
“Everyone recognises the incredibly important role immigration plays in our society. Of course I recognise it particularly in the NHS where we have brilliant work done by workers from the EU and other overseas countries.
“What is not fair is that you bring in these workers from overseas but then you don’t train up your own people and give them skills such that they can do some of these higher paid jobs.
“What we’re saying to businesses is that we all have a social responsibility here. If you’re benefiting from bringing workers in from overseas then you need to help pay to train people in this country so that they can access those higher paid jobs.”
That alone is not unreasonable. Only, the Tories have done exactly the opposite of what they’re now demanding of employers.
On Hunt’s watch, the NHS has a 24,000 shortage of qualified nurses. That has been exacerbated by a 75% fall in the number of nurses from the EU joining the NHS since the Brexit vote.
But rather than train more nurses to meet the demand, the Tories completely scrapped bursaries to help train the next generation of British nurses.
As a result, applications for nursing training courses beginning in 2017 fell by a whopping 20% and the NHS staffing crisis will continue as a result.
They haven’t got a leg to stand on when it comes to fairness for workers wherever they’re from – this is just another dog-whistle anti-immigrant policy from the Tories.
Another case of do as the Tories say, not as the Tories do…