Shock, horror: immigation is good for the economy

The head of the OBR has told MPs that immigration 'tends to produce a more beneficial picture'. Take that, UKIP.

by Emma Haslett
Last Updated: 20 Oct 2014

Well, fancy that. Following the news that, rather than the squillions of Romanians expected to flood into Britain on January 1 all intent on rinsing the benefit system for everything it’s got, just 24 people have arrived from Romania, here's (even) more evidence that immigrants are actually good for the country.

Yep: yesterday pointy-headed Robert Chote, the chairman of the Office for Budget Responsibility (/husband of Treasury director general Sharon White), ie. the man responsible for the UK’s public spending, pointed out that actually, letting more immigrants into the UK ‘does tend to produce a more beneficial picture’.

That’s because the majority of immigrants are ‘more likely to be working age, they’re more likely to be paying taxes and less likely to have relatively large sums of money spent on them for education, for long-term care, for healthcare, for pension expenditure’. So not the benefit-scrounging, swan-eating, (confusingly) job-stealing monsters some would have us believe…

It’s not the first time we’ve heard this sort of thing: a report published by the National Institute of Economic and Social Research found that for each 1% rise in immigrant share of employment in a given industry, productivity in that sector rises by 0.06%. A separated study by UCL showed EU migrants (including those 24 Romanians, presumably) contribute 34% more to the economy than they take out.

… which brings us to a report by Theresa May into EU migration – or lack thereof. The home secretary was commissioned to look into the issue, but in December her work was quietly shelved because it didn’t provide enough evidence to support the case for cracking down. The report’s first draft, leaked earlier that month, suggested a cap of 75,000 on EU immigration, as well as ‘explicitly reserving’ jobs for British citizens.

But apparently certain factions of the government – namely the prime minister – thought the report was ‘too political’, so it’s been put back until ‘after the European elections’. Some reckon the government might shelve it altogether.

At some point, the government is going to have to admit that in order to compete on a global stage, immigration is something we’re all going to have to comfortable with. 

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