Curbing EU immigration will cost UK economy £60bn

Plans to tighten EU immigration will drive up national debt and cost the UK £60bn in lost GDP by 2050, the CEBR says.

by Elizabeth Anderson
Last Updated: 10 Sep 2013

Immigration is a divisive topic in the UK and the government has been on a push to stem the number coming in. But today a major report warns that curbing EU immigration could danger the UK’s economic prosperity, costing it £60 billion in lost GDP.

A report from Harvey Nash recruiters and the think tank Centre for Economics and Business Research says that workers from the European Union are more likely to work in senior jobs than British workers, earning around 7.6% (£2,035) more than their British counterparts. And without migrants from the EU helping to off-set the UK’s ageing population, the strain on public finances will be higher and government borrowing would rise 0.5%, the report suggests.

Earlier this year, the Coalition announced plans to restrict EU migrants' access to jobseeker's allowance to six months, issue new guidance to local authorities to give priority to local people in social housing, and introduce tougher fines on businesses that use illegal labour. The measures are intended to stem the flow of EU migrants coming over to Britain.

Government figures last month showed there were 407,000 non-UK nationals receiving benefits such as Jobseeker’s Allowance last year, a rise of more than 118,000 since 2008, totalling hundreds of millions of pounds a year.

But when it comes to businesses, many say that migrant workers have become a staple of many British firms. The number of EU migrants working in the UK more than doubled from 762,000 to 1,647,000 between 2003 and 2013.

Celebrity chef Jamie Oliver recently said that European immigrant workers are ‘much stronger and tougher’ and that if he didn’t have any, all of his restaurants ‘would close tomorrow. There wouldn’t be any Brits to replace them.’

The CEBR’s analysis adds weight the ONS’s findings a few weeks ago that the UK would need seven million more migrants over the next 50 years to keep debt down.

Albert Ellis, CEO of the Harvey Nash Group, said: ‘Non-UK EU born workers are bringing much needed skills and value to the UK and there is little evidence that EU immigrants are having a negative impact on wages or unemployment.’

Read about the migrants building East London's Silicon Roundabout here.

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