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April 01, 2010


Frank H Little

I'm against encouraging expedient immigration. That is what midlands bus companies and the NHS (under Enoch Powell!) did in the 1950s, building up resentment.


Immigration like everything else is dependent on the state of the economy.Booming economy & immigration is not an issue, recession and the opposite is true. Please lets not blame all our woes on immigrants who are generally resillient, hard working & enterprising.


"First, the idea that immigrants put “pressure on public services” is pure bull."

Immigration is fine if the additional tax receipts are spent to relieve the additional pressure on public services. But that isn't always the case, and I think that is what people really object to.

If my local area increases its population by 20% due to immigration but the budget for education, health and transport in my area isn't increased, then pressure results.

The procedure for redistributing the additional tax receipts from immigration needs looking at.


Put it another way. If you use additional tax receipts from immigrants in working-class Burnley to fund tax cuts for the middle-classes in Surrey, then you may be fiscally neutral but BNP voters in Burnley may still be worse off.

Richard Gadsden

There is another sense in which immigration puts pressure on public services.

The quality of public services in the current year is driven only in part by the budget in the current year; it's also driven by the accumulated capital from the spending in previous years. The two biggest lumps of that capital are buildings (schools, hospitals) and educated workers (teachers, doctors, nurses, etc).

If the population of a geographical area increases rapidly - whether through a very high birth rate, or through high immigration (regardless of whether those immigrants have crossed an international border to get there), then even if public spending does rise with the increasing tax revenues, the capacity improvements in public services will inevitable lag the investment.

In an oversimplified example, if the population of the catchment area of a hospital doubles, then doubling the budget of the hospital doesn't give it enough capital funds to build lots of new wards, so that puts pressure on the hospital.

Even if it does drive lots of capital investment (as it should), there is still a lag - look at the huge amounts of capital poured into the NHS in the last six or seven years and how long it has taken for the quality and quantity of care to become representative of the funding level.

This isn't an argument against immigration - but there is an argument for controlling immigration when capital budgets are tight.

[Incidentally, this is another argument for replacing PSBR with GGFD; capital spending is depreciated like a normal business instead of being a one-off charge]

Trevor Brown

a Belsize Park Centric view of immigration.....?

Ralph Musgrave

The argument in the above article is completely demolished by the point made by Richard Gadsen above, namely that each immigrant necessitates a HUGE investment (and hence ADDITIONAL BORROWING) in roads, school and hospital buildings, railways, etc.

Allan Jones

'Immigrants of a certain type make a net fiscal contribution.' No shit, Sherlock (to quote an earlier post). Has anybody ever claimed that no immigrants of any type make a net fiscal contribution?

But it is a non sequitur to state that, 'taken as a whole, immigrants contribute as much to public services as they take out'. It depends on the characteristics of the immigrants, which depends (partly) on the immigration policy pursued. Maybe there is a robust study of the UK immigrant population that looks at this, but you don't link to one. It is quite plausible that educated immigrants from the EU make a positive net fiscal contribution, while poorly educated immigrants from developing countries do not.

Also, I wasn't aware of any mainstream party proposing that we leave the EU/ renege on Treaty commitments relating to freedom of movement between EU states.

Ralph Musgrave

Re my earlier point about the large additional investment (and borrowing) required for each immigrant, there is a paper by the Social Affairs Unit which puts this at about £70,000 per head. See: http://socialaffairsunit.org.uk/digipub/content/view/18/27/1/0/

Personally I think that is on the high side. I did my own calculations and got it to about £30,000. See: http://mpra.ub.uni-muenchen.de/6869/


"It’s because cutting the deficit is not really a top priority at all - and certainly not a higher priority than appealing to the mob."

For 'the mob' read 'voters at election time', but otherwise this is a shock insight up there with bears being Catholic and Popes pooing in the woods.

"Govt gets tough on immigration" is one of those headlines like "Govt to crack down on crime". The pledge is 'for amusement only', as the pinball machines say.

john malpas

if the fiscal impact is zero why bring in a load of foreigners?
Foreigners with foreign ways who speak foreign languages and need special atention at school etc etc.


exactly. Why would we need foreign intervention if capital and investments are already available here? Perhaps we must start considering ping post


Immigration is not a very welcome solution to reduce goverment borrowing.... it comes with its own even higher problems....


If only we could only get the feckless elements of the indigenous population to emigrate.

Pat Pending

Sticky issue.

Economic immigration does push down pay rates for unskilled and semi-skilled workers and migrants come here with uncheckable qualifications that have to be established on the job - by then they have the job in place of someone with UK qualifications.

Also economic immigrants, particularly non permanent ones, tend to live in conditions that UK workers will not live in. People sleeping many to room and live cheaply in order to save money to enable them to send more money home. This means much lower costs to cover than native workers and a downward pay spiral, particularly in a recession.

This can have significant effect in areas where large numbers of immigrants tend to head for - London, East Anglia.

However, it does need to be said that the immigrants are known for working harder, doing better work and often having a higher level of skill than UK workers.

Lower cost, higher skills and work harder. Any businessman knows which he would recruit.

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