POLITICS

Immigration 'Myths' Dispelled By Top Economist Jonathan Portes

02/09/2013 16:09 | Updated 02 September 2013
PA

Britons' fears about immigrants are misplaced, according to a leading economist - who said reduced immigration would lead to higher taxes.

Jonathan Portes said migrants had "few if any" negative effects on British-born workers, and pointed out that they make a net overall contribution to the economy.

It comes after a major poll found that most people think immigration is hurting Britain overall.

Portes, director of the National Institute of Economic and Social Research and former chief economist at the Cabinet Office, told HuffPost UK: "There is a strong consensus amoung UK economists that immigration has few if any negative impacts on native workers on average."

He quoted Jonathan Wadsworth, a professor and member of the Migration Advisory Committee, who said there was "little evidence of overall adverse effects of immigration on wages and employment for people born in the UK."

Portas added: "Of course, some workers may be negatively impacted - but others will benefit. Indeed, new OECD research suggests that immigration has actually raised wages in the UK, both on average and for low paid workers.

"What this also misses is that, as the Office for Budget Responsibility recently pointed out, immigrants make on average a significant net fiscal contribution - in the long run, lower immigration will mean higher taxes or more spending cuts."

Don Flynn, director of Migrants' Rights Network, said: "Given the largely negative tone of public commentary on immigration, involving politicians from all parties and a large part of the media, it is not surprising that people's first response is to see immigration as a problem.

"However, it's encouraging to know that, whenever people are asked to consider the issues at greater depth, in terms of their local communities and their actual experience of working with migrants, their views are moderated and, as Lord Ashcroft says himself, more nuanced."

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