POLITICS

Migration And Economic Growth Down As Election Campaign Restarts

Experts warn loss of skilled EU workers could put economy in trouble.

25/05/2017 12:38 | Updated 26 May 2017
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Net migration is down and economic growth has been revised down as election campaigning is set to resume. 

Latest ONS figures show thousands of Europeans have left the UK since the referendum last year and the number of EU migrants entering the country for work has also fallen.

UK GDP growth for the first three months of the year has been revised down from the preliminary projection of 0.3% in April to 0.2%.

The total net migration figure for 2016 was 248,000 - down 84,000 on the previous year.

Theresa May has pledged to bring net migration to below 100,000 - but experts have warned this could cause a staffing crisis in the healthcare, construction and farming sectors and put economic stability at risk.

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Experts have warned a drop in net migration could put the construction sector under pressure.

Business group London First also raised concerns about the Conservatives’ approach to tackling immigration. 

“European workers are leaving the UK, and they will be taking their skills and experience with them,” chief executive Jasmine Whitbread said.

“If the next government is committed to reducing net migration to the tens of thousands, then we have to radically improve our skills system before the shutters come down.

“Without a clear, fact-based understanding of what we need, turning people away risks damaging our economy at a time when the UK should be firing on all cylinders.”

Joe Carberry, co-executive director of pro-EU group Open Britain, said the government should drop its ‘ill-judged’ immigration target.

He added: “These figures show that for the Government to meet its target of cutting net migration to the ‘tens of thousands’, they would need to reduce immigration by 184,000.

“Such a drastic cut is most likely unachievable, but were it to be achieved, it would do terrible damage to our economy. Immigrations make a net contribution of billions of pounds to the exchequer, and do vital work in our businesses and public services.”

The ONS said growth had slowed in the first quarter of 2017 because consumer facing industries - including retail and accommodation - fell and household spending slowed, partly thanks to rising prices.  Business services and the financial sector continued to ‘grow strongly’.

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TUC general secretary Frances O'Grady said wages are being squeezed.

The Trade Union Congress said the slowing of growth was a sign wages are being squeezed.

General secretary Frances O’Grady said: “This is a very worrying sign of the squeeze that families are feeling. Prices are rising faster than earnings, and households are getting deeper into debt.”

The TUC released a report on Thursday which showed household debt is set to reach record highs of £13,900 per home in the first year of the new government.

O’Grady said the economy needed ‘serious attention’, as well as more investment in skills, transport, technology, housing and public services.

Both Labour and the Tories are set to resume national election campaigning on Friday.

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