Half Of Population Living In High Immigration Areas, Home Office Study Says

Half The Population Living In High Areas Of Immigration
Around half the population of England and Wales lives in high immigration areas
Around half the population of England and Wales lives in high immigration areas

Half the population of England and Wales live in areas of relatively high immigration, putting pressure on essential services and social cohesion, according to a new Home Office analysis.

The report is said to mark the first attempt by officials to study the impact of different types of migration in different parts of the country.

It comes amid high tensions over the issue, a day after Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt called for immigrants to pay a fee for the NHS in a bid to stop "health tourism".

It estimated that around 50% of the population live in areas experiencing "relatively high migration flows" - with 30% said to live in areas of "moderate" migration and 20% in areas where migration is "low".

The study found asylum-seekers and refugees were likely to have the highest impact on public services in an area because of their particular circumstances and levels of need.

Low-skilled migrant workers were said to present a more "mixed picture" - with the potential to bring economic benefits to an area, particularly when the economy was doing well, but also having "higher impacts" on health, housing and social cohesion.

"The negative impacts will also be greater for illegal workers, including those who arrived on a student visa but whose primary intention was to work, as these will often live in poor conditions, sometimes work illegally and therefore not contribute taxes, and poorly integrate with the community in which they live," the report said.

In contrast, legitimate international students and skilled workers from outside the European Economic Area were said to have relatively little impact on social cohesion, actually making less demand on public services than the average UK resident.

The study found that an area's past migration history was "particularly influential" in determining how it coped with new migrants - particularly in terms their impact on social cohesion.

The impact was likely to be felt most sharply in what the report termed "asylum dispersal areas" - such as Bolton, Plymouth, Rotherham and Swansea - and "migrant worker towns and countryside" - such as Boston, Dover, Fenland and Rugby - which had had limited prior experience of large-scale migration.

"The presence of asylum seekers, refugees and low-skilled workers may therefore have more noticeable effects on social cohesion in these areas," the report said.

"This combination of high volumes of new migrants in an area with little previous experience of receiving migrants appears to give rise to greater challenges and potential tensions."

The impact of asylum seekers and refugees on health and social services was likely to be greater in the asylum dispersal areas and what were termed "diverse conurbation centres" - such as Bradford, Birmingham, Manchester and Liverpool - where there were large numbers seeking refugee status.

However their longer history of dealing with the needs of migrant groups meant that the second group was better able to adapt to an influx of new arrivals.

The report said the "association between social cohesion and socio-economic deprivation" meant that such areas could experience what the report called "cohesion issues" - particularly if there were already high levels of deprivation in an area.

The study also focused on the pressure on housing, with most new migrants ending up in private rented accommodation.

"Migrants' attraction to low-cost temporary accommodation can attract them to particular areas and make them susceptible to rogue landlords, overcrowding and poorer quality housing," it said.

However the report also highlighted the potential benefits of migration in what it called "rural and coastal retirement areas' - such as Arun, Chichester, Cornwall and Teignbridge - with aging populations.

"In some of these areas the arrival of migrant families and children might help to keep rural schools open, while migrant workers can make a valuable contribution to the provision of services and to the local economy," it said.

Immigration Minister Mark Harper said: "This report highlights the significant impact high levels of migration have had on UK communities. It emphasises the importance of protecting our public services and taking a robust approach against those who come here to exploit our welfare system.

"It is based on research from 2011 and, since then, we have drastically reformed our immigration system, bringing net migration down to its lowest levels in a decade.

"The report's conclusions also highlight why the Immigration Bill is so important, on a local as well as national level.

This is why we have today started consulting on a number of policies targeting the real problems facing the immigration system today."

He added: "We are proud of our history as a welcoming nation and our migrant communities have played a central role in moulding the rich and diverse society that we live in today.

"While we have always recognised and believed in the benefits of immigration, uncontrolled immigration causes a number of problems for the United Kingdom.

"If we do not implement the proper controls, communities can be damaged, resources will be stretched and the benefits that immigration can bring are lost or forgotten."


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