A Citizenship Mortgage to Charge a Fair and Market-Based Price for New UK Citizens, Long-Term Visa and Permanent Residence Holders
Raises Revenue (£20-£30bn per annum) without burdening voters or raising headline taxes; and at a time when we need to raise government revenues and control debt.
Popular with the public and Tory voters, and in keeping with the government’s toughening stance on immigration.
A citizenship mortgage would discourage fraudulent applications, such as sham marriages. While giving spouses who find themselves in abusive relationships a prosperous way out.
It encourages only economically active and prosperous migrants to remain.
And it encourages migrants to remain economically active even after citizenship or residency is granted.
Reduces pressure on public services
Improves migrants’ contribution and the UK dependency ratio by discouraging migrants from staying beyond their most productive period.
Recoups some of the enormous cots on society of granting citizenship and residency rights.
Allows us to deport more of those who commit serious crimes.
When immigration to the UK does not work out, it provides a compassionate alternative to return home with a lump sum.
Just like a housing mortgage, anyone currently eligible to claim UK citizenship or a long term right of residency (e.g. marital visa) would pay for it over 30 years.
The applicant would pay around £3000-5000 (linked to GDP per capita or the median wage) a year, rising with wages/GDP over the period. During this period, the citizen would have full access to all the rights they would normally have, providing they meet the payments. A sum of this size clearly is not going to prevent someone, such as a would-be spouse, from coming to the UK: it just means they will have to remain an economically active and contributing citizen for many years.
The yearly fee could be waived or paid annually by the employer for frontline public service workers (e.g. NHS staff) who are working full time. The latter option is preferable as it would encourage the public sector to select existing British citizens wherever possible.
An exception would be made if the applicant committed a serious crime. In which case they would be deported and their deposit forfeited.
Also, if an applicant decided they did not want to remain in the UK, they have a compassionate way out. Applicants could recoup half their contributions if they decide to relinquish citizenship or residency rights part of the way through. There are lots of reasons things may not work out for new migrants (the weather, problems integrating, missing family, marital breakdown, etc.), so providing a sum of cash to help them repatriate is compassionate and good for everyone. This is particularly empowering for foreign spouses who find themselves caught in abusive relationships. The citizenship mortgage gives them access to a substantial lump sum they can cash in, return home; starting fresh and free from abuse.
Given that there are over 150k new UK citizenship grants a year, plus all the long-term visas and rights to remain (assume 100k), the UK could expect to raise £30bn pounds a year through such a scheme once fully up to speed. Even if the effect was to lower applications by a third, it would still raise £20bn.
There is a global market for citizenship. Even basic passports (e.g. for a Pacific Island Nation) start at c. $150,000. British citizenship is about the best of the bunch. As well as giving convenient travel and access all over the globe, it comes with one of the most generous ranges of rights and benefits anywhere – not least the word’s most comprehensive free-at-the point-of-use healthcare system.
The true market value of British Citizenship is well over £0.5m. This scheme would still be asking for less than a third of this. Currently we charge just £1400 and often we waive that!
Each time we give away citizenship we are imposing a huge burden on ourselves – as taxpayers, UK nationals, public service beneficiaries and public service workers.
It is economically irrational and grotesquely irresponsible for the government to give away something to foreign nationals for less than 0.2% of its market value!!
It is a bit like selling off NHS ambulances (worth 250k each) for £500. Imagine the public outcry!
Thus, cheap and easy citizenship really is the thorn in the side of UK Immigration Policy.
Research by myriad Conservative think tanks have found that, the moment an immigrant worker (whether working in the UK or for the UK) is offered citizenship, their economic contribution collapses and their burden on public services explodes. A typical example would be a hard-working twenty-something. After five years of hard graft, they may become eligible for Citizenship. No sooner is the ink dry than spouses and relatives join them, followed by children. Then, as they get older, healthcare and pension costs balloon.
Thus, offering citizenship completely undermines the rationale for immigration to offset an ageing workforce and rising dependency ratio. For that to happen, the productive immigrant worker needs to return home before they become a burden. If they do not, what you get instead is simply an unsustainable and politically unacceptable Ponzi scheme, with ever more migrants needed to look after ever more aging migrants.
Furthermore, because UK citizenship is so valuable, it acts as a ‘work perk’ enabling wealthy employers such as Goldman Sachs, to recruit huge amounts of cheap labour at will.
Foreign workers accept a sub-market wage to come to the UK because they know they can claim citizenship in a few years’ time, bringing with it all the benefits (worth hundreds of thousands) for themselves, their families and dependents.
Thus, cheap routes to citizenship are effectively using overburdened public services to subsidise employer wages, often for very wealthy companies.
Lastly and tragically, because we are giving something so valuable away so cheaply, we encourage fraud and criminality on an industrial scale. Sham marriages alone are estimated to number 10000-20000 a year, often resulting in incredible suffering and abuse. Endless schemes have been rolled out to reduce this, but to little avail. The simple act of charging more of a market rate would be far more effective in preventing it.