Priti Patel accused of ‘stealth tax’ amid plans to make foreign health workers pay full price for visas

Priti Patel has been accused of a “stealth tax” by opposition parties amid plans to make foreign health workers pay the full price for visas.

Citizens of many European countries face losing the discount on their visa fee under Home Office plans to withdraw the UK from part of the European Social Charter that gives citizens of 26 countries a £55 discount on application fees for most worker visas.

Now Labour’s shadow home secretary Nick Thomas-Symonds has labelled the plans “shameful”.

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He said: “What does the home secretary have against NHS and care workers?

Home Secretary Priti Patel is believed to be considering charging foreign health workers the full amount for visas

“Conservative plans to slap a stealth tax on frontline heroes, who have risked their own health to keep us safe through this pandemic, is shameful.

“The Prime Minister made a personal promise to remove the Immigration Health Surcharge for overseas workers.

“Now, what he gave with one hand, he seeks to take away with the other."

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The charter was created by the Council of Europe in 1961 and requires member countries to make it cheaper for foreign workers to move.

Anne McLaughlin MP, the SNP’s Immigration spokesperson, also questioned the plans.

She said: “The coronavirus crisis has highlighted the contribution of those who have come to the UK to work and make it their home.

“They have helped to make up the backbone of our society – and our NHS.

Priti Patel is ignoring all of this in her misguided quest – based solely on ideology instead of facts or common sense – to make the UK more isolationist on the world stage.

“The UK Government has already had to charter flights to bring in hundreds of workers from EU countries to help farms in Scotland and the rest of the UK survive, and we have been warned time and again that our care sector could be crippled without the contribution of foreign workers, and now they want to make it even harder to recruit vital workers.

“The Tories repeatedly refuse to learn lessons and Scotland is suffering as a result.”

A Home Office spokesman said: “All visa fees are kept under review.

"Now free movement has ended, our ambition is to ensure consistency and fairness across the immigration system, including across EU member states.”

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