MigrationWatch: new focus on population growth

MigrationWatch today continued their attempt to shift the focus of debate on migration away from people movement and towards population. The press release for a new report suggested that rising numbers of births to immigrant parents will contribute to increased demand for primary school places, costing the British taxpayer £1 billion in building costs for new schools.

MigrationWatch today continued their attempt to shift the focus of debate on migration away from people movement and towards population, as has previously been documented on Left Foot Forward. The press release for a new report – carried out by MigrationWatch for Balanced Migration, a cross-party group of MPs – suggested that rising numbers of births to immigrant parents will contribute to increased demand for primary school places, costing the British taxpayer £1 billion in building costs for new schools.

This is an important strategic shift for MigrationWatch. Concerns about ‘population’ sound much less politically contentious than worries about migration, and potentially allow them to widen their appeal. Meanwhile, population growth continues to rise at a time when net migration has dropped dramatically (almost halving between 2007 and 2008). Population trends mean they continue to have a drum to beat.

Two key problems stand out, however. First, while counting the costs of new housing or new schools associated with a larger population is easy, it completely neglects the benefits that those people bring. Taking a well known example, it is not clear how future pension bills will be met without some increase in population. Children who will be a ‘pressure’ on the education budget over the next decade are the following decades’ taxpayers and entrepreneurs.

Second, MigrationWatch fail to conceal their real concerns. Increasing birth rates per se concern them much less than the fact that some of these people are the children of immigrants. In their analysis, while all children need to attend school and all children need decent housing, only the children of foreign parents represent a threat to the public purse – and this despite any evidence that they are more costly than their UK-parented counterparts. MigrationWatch will struggle to build a credible case against increasing population when their focus remains so transparently elsewhere.

The Daily Express, incidentally, also appear distracted and credit the report this morning to that other fountain of accuracy, the TaxPayers’ Alliance.

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One Response to “MigrationWatch: new focus on population growth”

  1. Shamik Das

    RT @leftfootfwd: Migration Watch shift their focus onto population http://bit.ly/12aZN4

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