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UK reviews Romanian and Bulgarian worker limits

The government is to review its closed-door policy on Romanians and Bulgarians working in Britain as part of its survey into a new points-based system for non-EU migrants, the Home Office announced on Thursday. 

Britain and Ireland restricted the influx of migrant workers from the two former Communist states when they joined the European Union in January. A new Migration Impacts Forum (MIF) - set up to advise the government on how general migration affects public services and communities - will look at the situation in September. The MIF meets for the first time on Thursday and will report back to ministers who may make a decision by year-end. Composed of experts from local government, health and education workers, the police and criminal justice system, the voluntary sector, business and unions, it will take evidence on the wider social impacts of migration such as housing and health, before reporting back to the government.

Ministers will take its evidence into account when deciding where to set the „bar” migrants need to cross to work or study in the UK. The new system is due to be introduced in the New Year. Immigration Minister Liam Byrne, joint chair of the MIF, said: „Our countdown to a UK points system for migrants has started, and next year we will start counting people in and out of Britain.” „When we set the bar that migrants need to cross we won't just listen to business. Today we deliver our promise to systematically listen to other voices before we set immigration policy,” he added. Working alongside the MIF will be the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC), which will be made up of a team of independent experts who will advise the government on where there are shortages in the economy that could be filled by migration.

Last October, the government said it would review Romania and Bulgaria's position on an annual basis. Currently, only low-skilled workers from these countries are allowed to work in food processing industries and agriculture under a quota system, while skilled migrants are only granted jobs if they cannot be filled by local residents. The exact numbers of Romanians and Bulgarians taking up jobs in the UK are unclear, but figures show nearly 8,000 came in the first three months of this year, plus 2,400 who joined the seasonal agricultural workers' scheme. (