European Affairs

Britain’s Problems Are Worsened by Massive Immigration     Print Email

Immigration is now on an unprecedented scale. East Asians from Uganda and elsewhere in East Africa who arrived in the mid-1970’s amounted to 27,000. We are now taking 12 times that number every year. Recently, concern has focused on immigration from Eastern Europe. In the first two years since 2004 when eight new countries joined the European Union, 447,000 have registered – 62 percent from Poland. The actual number of immigrants is estimated by the Home Office at 600,000. It is not known how many have since returned home. About half say that their employment is temporary, but even if they have all returned, net immigration from Eastern Europe would be about 150,000 a year (compared to the government’s prediction of a maximum of 13,000). Anecdotal evidence would suggest that this estimate is too low. Migration from the new EU countries is, of course, in addition to immigration from the rest of the world, now running at nearly 300,000 a year.

Immigration (immigrants and their descendants) will now account for 83 percent of future population growth in the United Kingdom. The population projections took account of increased migration resulting from the expansion of the EU but they assumed that total migration flows would rapidly decrease from 255,000 in 2004-5 to just 145,000 in 2007-8.

So far there has been no sign of a decrease in immigration from the new EU countries and the accession of Bulgaria and Romania (and possibly other East and Southern European countries) will add to immigration pressures.

The economic benefit from this inflow is very limited. Government arguments are fallacious. Immigration is not essential to our economic growth. It adds to economic growth but also adds nearly proportionately to our population so that the benefit to the host community is small. (A result found also in the U.S., Canada and the Netherlands.) In the UK it amounts to about £25 per head per year.

Immigrants will have little impact on our ability to pay pensions in future: immigrants, too, will age and require pensions. Their financial input to the Exchequer is, despite government claims, approximately neutral.

Immigration is welcome to many employers because it holds down pay levels, especially for the unskilled, and contributes to lower interest rates. It can also be a source of cheap skilled labor with no training costs. But it is the taxpayer who picks up all the costs of the extra infrastructure required. The extra population also adds to the pressure on transport and water supplies, both of which are already facing serious difficulties.

To the extent that immigration holds down wages it makes it more difficult for the government to achieve its stated aim of moving from welfare to work the 1.5 million unemployed and the 2.7 million people on Incapacity Benefit. There are now one million young people in Britain who are neither in work nor in education. Are immigrants doing jobs the British will no longer do? No. In large parts of Britain where there are few, if any, immigrants, British people are doing all these jobs. The fundamental problem is the benefits trap. Wages are held down to a level where for some there is little benefit in working rather than collecting benefits. Wages should be allowed to rise to make lower paid jobs worthwhile and to encourage productivity. Increasing productivity is the only way that a nation can become richer.

There is growing resentment among the native population of whom 70-80 percent wish to see a tougher immigration policy. Only ten percent feel that the government is listening to public opinion on immigration. The ethnic population is also concerned about the direction of events: A majority of them (55 percent) also wish to see tighter immigration control. A majority of the population (69 percent) feel that Britain is losing its own culture. In the last ten years, 600,000 Londoners have left the city to be replaced by 700,000 immigrants. This is changing the whole nature of the city.

The natural tendency of some immigrants to join their own communities, and to choose spouses from their countries of origin, is leading to the formation of parallel communities with little contact, or identification, with mainstream British culture. Indeed, in some cases the younger generation is growing up hostile to British culture. Segregation, not integration, could loom on the horizon.


This article was published in European Affairs: Volume number 7, Issue number 3-4 in the Fall/Winter of 2006.

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