Tough new immigration rules are tearing Bradford families apart and must be changed, an MP has warned.

Liberal Democrat David Ward attacked the requirement that citizens earn £18,600 before they can bring in spouses, or partners, from outside the European Union.

Mr Ward said the income threshold was too high, because it was “higher than the income of almost half the UK working population.” As a result, parents were being separated from their children and elderly people were being forced into care homes because there was no-one to look after them.

The Bradford East MP said: “This is a big issue in my constituency and something that the people affected see as unfair. Children are being separated from their father or their mother – it could be either – and there is a cost to the Exchequer as well.

“The aim is to drive down immigration, but it is a false economy when there is an impact on childcare and on the elderly, who may have to go into care homes. The problem is that Bradford is very different to London, so people are required to be earning £18,600, yet £15,000 or £16,000 is the average wage.”

Mr Ward called on his own Government to either set a lower figure in low-wage areas such as Bradford, or scrap the rules altogether.

The rules were introduced 11 months ago to reduce the number of spouses, partners and elderly relatives coming to Britain from outside the European Economic Area (EEA). On top of the £18,600 figures, British citizens must have an extra income of £3,800 for the first child sponsored and £2,400 more for each further child.

Mr Ward helped launch a report by the all-party parliamentary group on migration, which set out the “anguish” for families.