Select Committee on Communities and Local Government Committee Tenth Report

7  Conclusion

127.  Migration is having significant effects on some local communities across the country. The sheer pace of change experienced in some areas has escalated public concerns about migration to the point where migration has become the single greatest public concern in Britain, overtaking concerns on crime and terrorism.[272] On our visits, some settled residents told us of their belief that there were simply too many migrants in their area, and expressed their views on various negative effects of migration. Community cohesion cannot be improved without addressing and alleviating public concerns about migration. These concerns are not merely based on prejudice, but can often be grounded in genuine anxieties about the visible and practical effects of migration.

128.  Migration can have positive benefits for local communities. Much of the health service is dependent upon migrant labour. The Government pointed out that migrants made up 17.8 per cent of the health care workforce. Many care homes are also dependent on migrant labour; migrants made up 13.3 per cent of the social care workforce in 2005-06.[273] Schools can benefit from the arrival of migrant children who help to raise the quality and educational attainment levels of the whole school.[274] The LGA noted that some local authorities have specifically encouraged migration to support the growth of their local economy.[275] The Minister of State for Borders and Immigration, Mr Liam Byrne MP, commented, "Birmingham wants to grow its population by about 100,000—and we do not think that all of that population is going to come from the resident population".[276] England is experiencing a rapid growth in the proportion of elderly people in comparison to those of working age, and the arrival of people of working age can help rebalance the overall population.

129.  Recent migration has placed particular pressures on local public services in areas that have experienced rapid inward migration, including schools; translation services; social care; English language teaching; policing and the NHS. Currently these services are left under-funded owing to the Government's reliance on allocating money based on flawed population data. The consequence of this is not only vital services left without adequate funding, but detrimental effects on community cohesion as competition increases for limited public resources. The continued under-funding of migration pressures at the local level increases the risk of community tensions escalating, particularly given that the majority of people in the UK already believe that some groups, such as immigrants, get unfair priority access to public services.[277]

130.  The Government needs to take immediate action to address public concerns about migration, and to defuse tensions before they lead to disturbances. We have set out a number of steps that the Government needs to take. It must introduce measures to ensure that migrants can access English language tuition in order to integrate into local communities, including ensuring that employers pay towards English language classes for their employees. It should ensure that its actions are co-ordinated across departments and that best practice on integration and cohesion is communicated to local organisations. Most importantly, the Government needs to ensure that local organisations, particularly local authorities, are adequately resourced to cope with local pressures on public services from migration and take action to integrate migrants. Only if it does so can we ensure that England receives the full benefit from past, current and future migration.

272   Ev 78 Back

273   Ev 84 Back

274   House of Lords, The Economic Impact of Immigration, First Report of the Select Committee on Economic Affairs, Session 2007-08, HL Paper 82, para 144 Back

275   Ev 131 Back

276   Q 236 Back

277   Ipsos MORI, Rivers of Blood Survey, April 2008, Back

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