English UK campaigns against 'significant increase' in visa fees and health surcharge
19 July 2023

English UK campaigns against 'significant increase' in visa fees and health surcharge 

We and tourism industry stakeholders are campaigning against the government's plans to fund public sector pay increases by hiking fees paid by international students, tourists and workers.  

Last week the government agreed pay rises of around 6% for many public sector workers but announced that they would be funded by increased costs for visas and the immigration health surcharge. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said these 'would raise over a billion pounds'.

The health surcharge would rise from £470 to £776 a year for international students, while work and visit visa costs would increase by 15% and 'at least 20%' for study visas. 

Joint letter to the Chancellor

Together with the Tourism Alliance, UKinbound and Airlines UK, we will be writing to the Chancellor of the Exchequer Jeremy Hunt to ask him to reconsider the visa costs rise. 'This will have an incredibly detrimental economic impact on the UK inbound tourism sector and will render us uncompetitive compared to many other countries, including our nearest competitors across the EU.

It is our view that UK visa fees are already far too high, given the 5% visa fee increase that was already introduced last year. This is before you compare it with other major tourist nations which rival the UK's inbound tourism industry. Rather than seeking to address this pre-existing competitive disadvantage decision, the government's announced further increase is another hammer blow to an industry that is just returning to pre-pandemic levels of activity.'

Comment from Jodie Gray, English UK chief executive 

Chief Executive Jodie Gray commented: 'While we support the pay rises for our doctors, teachers and nurses, this is not the right way to fund them. UK ELT and the wider tourism sector are export industries which bring much-needed revenue into our nation. If the cost of visas and the health surcharge become uncompetitively high, we risk losing that revenue and the jobs that these sectors support. This plan is incredibly short-sighted, and we believe must be reversed before it takes effect in October.'

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