What's being under reported is the extent to which it blows out the water some major claims of the anti-immigration lobby.
What’s being under reported is the extent to which it blows out the water some major claims of the anti-immigration lobby
BBC News is running today with a story that low-skilled workers are “at risk of exploitation because of lax labour laws, a report has warned”.
The report they are referring to is by the government’s Migration Advisory Committee and came out this morning.
The BBC is leading with, as mentioned, fears about employers exploiting the low paid and the need to properly “manage” further EU expansion.
No prizes for guessing how this will be interpreted by the right-wing press tomorrow.
Certainly it’s sensible to address any concerns that have come up in the Committee’s investigation, but what’s being under reported is the extent to which the report blows out of the water some bread and butter claims of the anti-immigration lobby.
Aside from the negativity you will hear from the media in the coming days, the report also found that:
Benefit tourism is largely a myth
About 15 per cent of the UK-born working-age population claimed out-of-work benefits in February 2013. The claim rate for migrants was 6 per cent – less than half the UK level. Jobseekers Allowance (JSA) and Employment Support Allowance (ESA) were the main benefits claimed by migrants (between 65 per cent and 82 per cent of the total).
Immigrant households were also “significantly less likely to live in social housing than comparable British households”, according to the report:
“Immigrants, in the raw data, are a little more likely than the UK-born to be in social housing. But there is considerable heterogeneity among immigrants. EEA nationals are less likely than British nationals to be in social housing. By contrast, non-EEA nationals and migrants who are now UK citizens are more likely than British nationals to be in social housing.”
EU migrants pay more into the pot than their British counterparts
Recent migrants from both the EEA and non-EEA have made a positive contribution to the public finances, the report says, once again rebutting the myth that migrants are somehow a ‘drain’ on the economy. The report found that:
“EEA migrants arriving since 2001 made a positive net fiscal contribution of £2,732 per person per year, while non-EEA migrants who arrived before 2001 were net debtors at minus £2,198 per person per year. Overall, on a per person per year basis, migrants cost the public finances £978, almost identical to the UK-born population who cost £1,087.”
Migrants aren’t ‘stealing our jobs’
The report found that youth unemployment has little to do with immigration. There is “little evidence to support the idea that the recent deterioration in the youth labour market was a direct consequence of increased competition for jobs following the inflow of migrant workers”. It says:
“Between 1997 and 2013, the numbers working in low-skilled occupations remained roughly the same. A 1.1 million decrease in UK born employment was offset by a 1.1 million increase in migrant employment…….but this should not be interpreted as migrants displacing UK-born workers on a one-for-one basis. A 2million increase in employment of UK-born in high skilled jobs more than offset this.”
Migrants working in low-paid jobs were also largely concentrated in a small number of local authorities, the report says. It found no evidence that employers were choosing migrant workers ahead of British-born workers, saying that this perception was probably due to migrants being on average more highly skilled. Some employers did however perceive migrants to have a better work ethic:
“When the work on offer is temporary, or seasonal, or unpleasant and with unsociable hours, some employers reported to us that UK workers were seen as less reliable than migrants, unable to sustain the pace of work required, less willing to work unsociable shifts, and had very high attrition rates.”