Author: Emily Nicolle
Government immigration targets to reduce net migration to under 100,000 people a year could end up costing the UK economy up to £12bn annually within the next five years, according to analysis from think tank Global Future.
Based on data provided by the Office of Budget Responsibility ahead of the government’s latest migration figures, efforts to cut immigration since Brexit has cost public finances around £1.35bn.
Global Future, an independent group that campaigns for an open approach to UK policy, said the expected £12bn bill would equate to 60 per cent of the extra funds promised to the NHS by Prime Minister Theresa May as part of a Brexit dividend.
Net migration to the UK since the vote has fallen by a total of 90,000, reaching 244,000 in the year ending September 2017.
“Cutting immigration hits our public finances hard,” said Global Future director Peter Starkings.
“As the government draws up its plans for a post-Brexit immigration policy, they must be honest about the trade-offs at the heart of this debate.”
“The British people may decide that they are happy to pay a bit more tax or see lower investment in our NHS and other public services in return for a reduction in immigration, but that’s a debate we have simply never had.”
A British Social Attitudes (BSA) survey published last week, which canvassed the opinions of almost 4,000 respondents, found that 47 per cent of Britons think that immigration has a “good” impact on the economy – a striking 14 per cent higher than the same question only two years earlier.
Some 44 per cent believe immigration is positive culturally, compared to only 23 per cent who believe it undermines British culture – almost half those who thought the same in 2011.
Starkings continued: “What we do know is that the public think immigration has been good for our economy and our culture, and when offered the choice, they routinely choose economic stability over reducing immigration.”