Talking Point

Proud to be British and Proud to be Hindu

Hindu Forum Britain - Written evidence (FAM0079) letter in support of the "Call for evidence launched on family migration"

The Hindu Forum of Britain presents this letter in support of the “Call for evidence launched on family migration”. The Hindu Forum of Britain is the largest umbrella body with a broad‐based membership of over 320 Hindu organizations from different regions and cultural backgrounds in Britain. At the core of the Forum’s activities is a strong belief in the richness and diversity of the Hindu culture, its value system that encompasses respect for all beings and faiths, and a cultural heritage that facilitates community cohesion and coexistence. The family togetherness, support and joint family concept is at the Centrepoint of Hindu culture and tradition since its existence. This is more so for the respect and duties towards the parents. The parents have the same status as God for a Hindu family. It is very important first duty of a Hindu individual to support, look after their parents at any stage in their life. This is more so when they need the support near the end of their life when they are less than able to look after themselves. It is an expected and accepted tradition and routine of a family life that the parents of Hindu families will live with their children as a joint family and more so during the later stage of their life when the parents need their help and support. The Hindus feel significant guilt, emotional upset and being deprived of their duties if they can not support their parents emotionally and physically when they need. This duty is considered as a debt which every Hindu must fulfil towards their parents.

The members of Hindu forum of Britain have raised their significant concerns regarding the Adult Dependent Relative (ADR) law since it was introduced in 2012. The scale of the impact has been multiplying over the years. For example the medical committee of Hindu Forum of Britain is very concerned about the Hindu doctors affected by this law as the doctors who migrated to help our beloved NHS are now in a terrific dilemma to whether to stay here or return back to India as they are unable to look after their parents while living very far apart as they are unable to bring them to UK to live with them since the ADR law. This was at the height with the recent pandemic and horror stories of unprecedented impact of COVID-19 everywhere. As we know the NHS is heavily reliant on doctors and nurses from India without whom the NHS will completely crash. These healthcare professionals who come here to support the NHS do their jobs with their well prepared and ready to use skills along with full empathy, humanity, compassion and without any discrimination. We would like to address our long overdue concerns for the British Hindu community who have migrated as skilled migrants during the past few decades.

The Hindu skilled migrants come to the UK when there is a need for workforce for example the National Health Service. We know very well that over 20% doctors serving in the NHS are from India. They brought in various skills with them. They got mixed within the UK rhythm and contributed to the British economy whenever there was a need. They started paying taxes from day one in this country. As skilled migrants who eventually became citizens left their extended family behind when they moved to the UK and settled as a nuclear family. Their parents visited them, and they visited their parents intermittently. However, as the parents get older, they need to be with their children to be cared and supported physically and emotionally. Until 2012 there was a possibility to bring their parents to the UK in their later life as elderly parents to live with their UK settled children until they pass away. However, in 2012 the Adult Dependent Relative Law came into existence which made it practically impossible to bring any parents of these British citizens to live with them in their later stage of life.

We all know without any doubt that it is very important for our elderly parents to be with their children during their later days of life. We have seen and experienced closely during the pandemic when our elderly parents were shielding. We have seen how much they suffered emotionally and mentally when they were left on their own. Their children also felt helpless and suffered. We also have experienced how much we all went through when we were not allowed to be with them when our loving parents passed away during the COVID time and we could not be with them for their funeral also. We have seen many emotional outbursts and descriptions of those who got affected during this unprecedented, sad but finite period. The COVID pandemic has taught us all how difficult it has been not to be able to see, hug and love our elder parents and loved ones. We have tearfully watched the scenarios of families being apart with shielding and lock down. This has been described as disgusting, barbaric and frustrating by people who even had their parents in this country.

We also can not underestimate or ignore the young children who miss out from their grandparents when they live far away. Growing up without grandparents around them is not the same childhood which the other British children experience. It is the children’s fundamental right to have enjoyed being with their grandparents while they are alive. It gives a very different and specific emotional family bond to eventually become loving, caring compassionate citizens of this country. These children when they become adults should have seen and learnt to have a normal British family life where parents and grandparents are part and parcel of their family routine and rituals. These are the fundamental human rights which the children of skilled migrant citizens miss out while growing up compared to the other children in the community in the UK.

Having previously afforded a more lenient approach, the rules around ADR immigration were tightened considerably in 2012. Since then, UK residents looking to bring dependent relatives, such as parents or grandparents, to live permanently in the UK with them, are required to not only prove their relatives require long-term care, but that they are unable to obtain suitable care in their relatives’ home countries. Since its implementation, the tougher requirements set for migrant residents seeking to bring adult relatives to live with them in the UK has had a dramatic effect. A 2016 Home Office review into the effect of the policy change showed that, while a total of 2,325 applications had been granted between April 2010 and March 2011, this number had fallen to 189 successful applications in 2013 and just 135 the following year. During 2020 only 70 ADR applications were granted by the Home Office. As you, I am sure, are aware of many horror stories of highly skilled migrant citizens whose parents could not come over during their last few days. There have been many discussions, cases, court cases etc regarding the beloved parents of our Hindu community who have been left on their own away from their highly skilled migrant children at a very tender older age. This is the time when they need more support from their children. This is the time they need more of our love and hugs. This is the time for us to pay back what they have given to us.

The Government just needs to put its feet in the shoes of our British citizens who migrated to help our Great Britain and the NHS, whose parents were born abroad and now need that tender loving care near the end of their life. The main argument against bringing our parents has been the burden on the NHS even though many migrant citizens have already promised the Home Office that they will bear the cost of their parents’ care. However, the economical truth regarding any burden to the NHS by bringing our dependent parents to the UK is calculated below. 1. The parents and the parent country’s government paid for a skilled migrants’ education. For example, it costs the British taxpayer over £250,000 to produce one doctor. Some parents have their two trained doctors that migrated and are working in this country. The migrant doctors and other skilled workers were already educated with their parents’ funding and now serve this country. They also became British taxpayers from the moment they arrived here. The parents of skilled migrants never claimed any child benefits and the UK government never paid for their school education. Therefore, by importing migrant skilled workers, the UK government has saved a phenomenal amount of money. This saving was at the expense of the migrants’ parents who funded their education. 2. Additionally, the parents of many skilled migrants were born in British colonies during their rule. Their parents and grandparents paid the taxes to the British government and could not claim any benefits from the British government due to colonial policies. Therefore, we can estimate that each migrant doctor may be worth at least £500,000 in saved taxpayer money. 3. When these skilled migrants inherit money from their parents, they have to pay the same amount of inheritance tax to the UK government as any British citizen. This is their parents’ money which the British government is claiming as their right to collect through inheritance tax regardless of whether the parents were born and lived here or abroad. However, the UK government will not allow these parents to come and live with their children to be supported. This is despite the skilled migrant citizens being willing to take full responsibility of any medical and social care cost without the use of any public money! In fact, the saved education costs and compulsory inheritance tax can easily fund their parents’ care needs.

While we all mourned the death of our beloved Her Majesty the Queen Elizabeth II, we owe to follow her kindled path in this country and beyond. We must not forget her one of the very few televised messages during the pandemic “ ….better days will return: we will be with our friends again; we will be with our families again; we will meet again….” The Queen’s broadcast to the UK and Commonwealth | The Royal Family This shows light at the end of the tunnel even during the horrible and frightening period of pandemic which Her Majesty lit during the darkness of pandemic. However, this kindle light is not able to brighten the skilled migrant British citizens and their families irrespective of the pandemic as they are unable to be with their parents in spite of no fault of their own. While recent sad event with the death of our beloved Her Majesty the Queen Elizabeth II we could see the emotional value of immediate family being there near the end of life. We saw our His Majesty the King Charles III and his siblings and Her Majesty’s grand children rushing to be with their mother and grandmother during last hours of her life. This shows that the emotional bond and the support the family as a whole needs at times in life is undisputable. We all unanimously agree on this point as per our Royal family setting the highest example of importance of family and the value of family togetherness at important times in the life. Sadly, the skilled migrant British citizens who are mainly from commonwealth country are deprived of these very important human rights. We urge our parliament to review the ADR law to give all the British citizens similar access to be with their immediate family which is very much possible in many other countries for example the United States of America.

14 September 2022