Migrants in Britain - The Verdict
In two separate reports issued yesterday concerning immigration to the UK, the studies found increased benefits to the economy and deficiencies in local area support in housing, health, education and the criminal justice system.
Immigrant workers are both higher paid and more reliable than their British counterparts and contributed £6 billion to economic growth last year, a Government study said yesterday.
The Home Office report on migration (pdf)
Migrants earned £424 a week on average, compared with £395 for UK workers, and paid more in tax than they consumed in services.
Immigrants have a better work ethic than the British and are willing to work longer hours with less time off sick. Weekly mean earnings of migrants are also £60 higher than their UK counterparts.
But while large numbers of migrants bring overall economic benefits, their arrival may be hitting the wage levels of the unskilled, the study found.
The Home Office said the newcomers had "high levels of skills – higher on average than the UK natives" and that employers found migrant workers "reliable and hard-working".
The economic study says 574,000 migrants came to live in Britain for the long term in the 12 months to June 2006; in the same period 385,000 left, giving a net inflow figure of 189,000 - down 28% compared with the previous year's net inflow of 262,000.
Workers in the North West, South West and Scotland all warned of increased 'community tensions' in areas unused to large- scale immigration.
Critics have accused the Government of giving no thought to the strain being placed on schools and hospitals, as ministers focussed solely on boosting the economy with cheap workers from overseas.
Labour's open door on immigration has piled huge pressure on our towns and cities, the Government finally admitted yesterday.
The hundreds of thousands who have flooded into the UK have affected housing, health, cohesion, education and crime.
The startling picture comes from groups and officials working on the ground and provides the clearest indication yet of the impact on our resources from Labour’s policies.
Ministers estimated 13,000 would come to Britain from former Eastern bloc countries which joined the EU in 2004.
More than 600,000 have since arrived, creating “challenges for public services”, said Liam Byrne - Minister of State.
The Migration Impacts Forum(MIF), set up earlier this year to assess the social impact of migration, found that the increased numbers coming to the country had created problems for public services. Community cohesion was the area with the fewest observations.
"This either means that there was little impact here or that it was most difficult to measure," the presentation said, although three regions noted there had been suggestions of tensions in areas which had not experienced this before.
Feedback from the Government's regional co-ordination groups, to be presented to the Migration Impact Forum(MIF) in Whitehall, said migrants are putting pressure on the housing market and driving up rents, creating increased demand on GPs and contributing to tensions in the community.
Conservatives said the government was ignoring the long-term consequences of immigration.
They said they would impose an explicit, annual quota on the number of migrants from outside the EU.
Dhananjayan Sriskandarajah of the Institute for Public Policy Research said it was time for government to move from anecdotal evidence to hard facts.
"It is clear that migration brings huge economic benefits to the UK," said Dr Sriskandarajah.
"It is also clear that, although recent migration is presenting new challenges in areas which have received large numbers of newcomers, most local communities around the country are coping very well.
"The key for policymakers will be to tap into the economic potential of immigrants while designing public services that can meet the needs of changing and diverse populations."
Immigration minister Liam Byrne admitted it had been a "mistake" to remove exit checks at Britain's borders and said the Government would now start to count people in and out of the country.
Exit checks were dropped in several waves under the previous Conservative government and under Labour from 1997.
Not having access to data on how many people leave the country has made it impossible to estimate how many illegal immigrants are now here.
Professor David Coleman, an internationally respected population expert, said the costs of immigration are likely to increase if, as according to Government figures, immigration continues to swell the population by 200,000 every year.
'The absent-minded commitment into which we have drifted, to house a further 15 million people - one million every five years - must be the biggest unintended consequence of government policy-of almost any century,' he said.
'There are no merits in the promotion of population growth itself and many reasons to regret it, especially in a country as crowded as the United Kingdom.'
Professor Coleman said the costs to the public sector include £1.5billion to run the asylum system, £280million to teach English to migrants and at least £330million to treat illnesses such as HIV.
Immigrant communities are over-represented in the criminal justice system, he added. Mass immigration also imposes 'congestion costs, diverts investment to new infrastructure and housing, impinges on space and amenity and accelerates the output of waste and greenhouse gas emissions.'