A recent study by the Centre for Research and Analysis of Migration at University College London (UCL) concludes that in general terms the UK benefitted from immigration and in considering the number of migrants entering the UK from 2001 to 2011 contributed £20bn to the UK economy. Migrants from the EU paid significantly more in taxes than they claimed in benefits or transfers for education, health or other expenditures. This highlights that the benefits of immigration outweigh its costs.
Dustmann and Frattini in the UCL study also identified the long-term benefits that are even more significant than the strong revenue gains for UK. Comparable studies on immigration to the US have shown that immigrants are vital for growth and competitiveness. According to the US Federal Reserve Bank, immigration leads to efficiency and increase in income per worker as immigrants expand the economy’s productive capacity by stimulating investment and also by promoting specialisation.
Immigrants are usually exceptional people who have learned to overcome adversity. More than half of the Silicon Valley ventures and half of the patents in US can be credited to migrants. Also in the case of unskilled migrants, they are willing to do those jobs that local workers refuse to do.
However social and economic impacts of migration can lead up to short-run and local costs for communities where these migrants settle in. The cost of migration may be immediate as opposed to the benefits that are only to be seen in the long run.
In areas where there is rapid and concentrated immigration, there might be an increased pressure placed on the local service providers and also an increase in competition for local jobs. Thus the Government should aim at distributing the burden sharing of migrants and support in areas of need. The fear that the British people face of losing jobs in light of coming in of migrants can be dealt by ensuring that migrants pay taxes, are subject to minimum wage and health and safety rules, and to the criminal justice system, and visible to the law and social services.
If properly managed, immigration will not be a threat to but rather benefit the UK, they argue. The importance of immigration should be realised and it should not be allowed to be crushed by the politics. Historically migrants have made great contributions to Britain’s achievements and there is a hope that the future prospects would be as good.