How does Rishi Sunak cut migration while filling NHS vacancies?

Travellers wait to get through a border check in the UK.
Credit: PA

The prime minister has argued that people are really more worried about illegal than legal migration. And it is right - the numbers arriving by small boat does show up high in polling of people's concerns. 

But when we speak to voters in different parts of the country, it is clear these record net migration figures crossing 600,000 are really worrying too, not least because of the cost-of-living crisis.

After all, our 300,000-housing target (which we aren't close to hitting) assumes net migration is far lower than this - at just 170,000.

The immigration numbers have triggered an almighty debate, ITV News deputy political editor Anushka Asthana reports

In Bexhill recently, a woman told us that while she did believe we need to bring people in, her son had lived with her until he was 32 and she worried about space. A sentiment I've heard time and again.

On top of housing is the pressure on the NHS - you don't need to look far to find people frustrated by delays with GP appointments or hospital waiting lists.

But in that is a challenge for the government. 

Because when you look at the breakdown of those coming to the UK, a majority of those gaining work visas in 2022 were people needed to fill shortages in the health service and in social care.

EU workers leaving post Brexit, followed by the pandemic, has led to massive numbers of vacancies in the NHS. 

Polling I had last night on ITV's Peston, from the New Britain Project carried out by More in Common, showed what makes people insecure about their futures.

Immigration was quite high up the list; with 23% citing fears about the impact on British values and 21% the impact on local services.

But access to health services was way above that - second on the list - only behind the cost-of-living crisis and fears about wages not keeping up. 

The answer to filling shortages in the NHS is long term, but the demands to cut migration are immediate. 

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