Cutting migration would damage public services, says think-tank

19 May 17

Manifesto pledges to cut immigration would be difficult to implement and “overwhelmingly undesirable” for key public services and national debt, an independent think-tank report has concluded.

Today Global Future has published a study examining the implications of the Conservative and Labour pledges on immigration in a variety of sectors, including public services.

It said: “Analysis of different sectors of the economy reveals that structural and demographic changes mean that many are already on a labour shortage cliff-edge.

“This bottom-up view confirms that a net migration figure in excess of 200,000 will be needed to avoid collapse of whole sectors, as well as to alleviate the crisis in public services such as social care and the NHS.”

Under the Tory plans outlined in Theresa May’s Forward, Together manifesto her government would seek to reduce immigration from around 273,000 a year to the tens of thousands.

Labour’s manifesto, although it promised not to set “bogus immigration targets”, also pledged an end to freedom of movement.  

But Global Future have criticised both parties’ immigration stands, saying at least 20,000 migrants were needed for social care alone.

The report stated: “The UK is close to full employment, has an ageing population and low productivity growth.

“These factors make immigration an essential ingredient of a successful economy looking ahead.”

It added: “We believe that politicians and political parties in this general election should have the courage to speak out and make the positive case for case for net migration to continue at a level of at least 200,000 people a year.”

The think-tank pointed out there are currently 57,000 EU nationals working in the health service, of whom about 20,000 are nurses, and there are 24,000 nursing vacancies nationwide.

Today’s report follows the release of an Institute for Government study, which advised Whitehall to keep the controversial freedom of movement policy after Brexit because a functioning immigration policy would not be in place by 2019 – the deadline for negotiations.

Concerns about the dwindling numbers of much-needed migrant workers in the public sector were raised at a CIPFA debate prior to the election on the topic of Brexit’s impact on the sector.

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