Fact: Most migrants come to work or study

Jon Danzig |

migration chart

Today’s newspapers are full of the latest migration figures that show net migration to the UK rose last year by 50% to 318,000. That’s way beyond the target set by Britain’s Prime Minister, David Cameron, who five years ago promised – but failed – to reduce net migration to ‘tens of thousands’.

Today Mr Cameron re-affirmed his pledge and said that he was still determined to bring net migration down to below 100,000.

However, a closer examination of the latest figures demonstrates how difficult a task the Prime Minister has set himself – and possibly a completely unnecessary and unwise one too. Why? Because the vast majority of migrants coming to the UK come for just one of two reasons – to work or to study.

And the reason so many migrants are coming here to work is because the British economy is doing so well compared to other European countries – resulting in many new vacancies being created, 200,000 in the last two months alone.

Britain now has more people in work than ever before. And although that’s no consolation to the 1.86 million unemployed in the UK, the unemployment figure has fallen to 5.5%.

According to Bank of England boss, Mark Carney (himself a foreign worker), Britain has one of the strongest jobs market in the world, and it’s mostly British workers who are taking up the jobs. But foreign workers are also needed, he said, and they are contributing to Britain’s increase in productivity.

According to a major study by University College London, EU migrants coming to Britain in the last decade made a net contribution to the Treasury of around £20 billion, during a time when British natives were taking out more than they were putting in.

In addition, foreign students coming to the UK are an essential revenue source for Britain’s universities and colleges, and whilst here, they also make a considerable contribution to the UK’s wider economy. A research paper by the last government’s Department for Business Innovation and Skills found that tuition fee income to the UK was worth over £4 billion a year, with the total value of UK training and education exports worth £14 billion to the UK economy, projected to rise to £26 billion by 2025.

Has anyone actually considered that reducing net migration to Britain to less than 100,000 might make the country – and all of us – poorer? Do we really want to deter workers and students coming to the UK who are making such a significant contribution to our economy?

Rather than continually trying and failing to stem the flow of natural and legal migration here in pursuit of jobs and studies, wouldn’t it be more cost effective for the government to invest considerably more in infrastructure, such as homes, schools and hospitals? In that way, the residents of Great Britain – of whatever nationality – could be properly accommodated, allowing them to get on with what most of us want to do: work or study.

Activities which, in turn, make the country richer and more successful..

For more information on today’s migration figures, see BBC website.

Also, see Impact of International Students.

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