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House of Lords cast doubt on immigration benefits

Peers cast doubt on immigration benefits

LONDON (Reuters) - Little evidence exists that immigration benefits Britain, according to a House of Lords committee on Tuesday that called for the government to review its policies.

A report by the Economic Affairs Committee rejected the government's argument that current record immigration levels provide economic advantages and said ministers have used "irrelevant and misleading criteria".

"We have found no evidence for the argument, made by the government, business and many others, that net immigration -- immigration minus emigration -- generates significant economic benefits for the existing UK population," the report said.

The government says immigration contributes an estimated 6 billion pounds a year to Britain, but the committee said it was wrong to use the total size of the economy as a benchmark for judging its impact.

Instead, the peers said immigration provided very little benefit on the income per head of the resident population while it had a social impact by affecting the demand for housing.

Low-paid people were also worse off as they would not receive training as businesses sought cheaper skilled workers from abroad. Nor could immigration solve the "pensions time bomb" of an ageing population, the report said.

"Nothing in our report is saying we should stop immigration," committee member and former Conservative minister Lord Wakeham told BBC radio.

"We believe immigration is good and emigration is good. What we want to do is keep the balance between the two."

The committee said the government needed to review its policies and clarify the objectives of the new points-based system which comes in later this year.

Immigration has been a long-running and heated political issue amid public fears that schools, hospitals and transport networks are being swamped by foreign nationals, especially since European Union enlargement.

The Conservatives say the government has lost control of the issue with official projections showing that net immigration will increase by about 190,000 a year in future. They have called for a cap on numbers.

"What the report is saying is let's not just look at what's good for the economy, let's look at what's good for Britain, let's look at the wider impact of immigration when we set immigration policy," Immigration minister Liam Byrne told BBC radio.

"That's something that I happen to absolutely agree with. I think we have got to look at the wider impact of migration when we decide in our new points system ... how many points a migrant needs in order to come to the UK."

Council leaders also called on the government to review its immigration policies, saying the money generated by immigration was not finding its way to local levels.

"The speed and scale of migration combined with the shortcomings of official population figures is placing pressure on funding for services like housing and children's services," said Simon Milton, chairman of the Local Government Association

Reuters news


This has been obvious to most people for years.

Re: House of Lords cast doubt on immigration benefits

"Council leaders also called on the government to review its immigration policies, saying the money generated by immigration was not finding its way to local levels.

"The speed and scale of migration combined with the shortcomings of official population figures is placing pressure on funding for services like housing and children's services," said Simon Milton, chairman of the Local Government Association"

Well that's down to the way the Government allocates money based on historical census figures from years ago.