White and ethnic minority communities are becoming increasingly separated by growing levels of population movement and immigration, a report says today.
More white families are moving from London to the regions while many immigrants arrive in the capital from overseas, the think-tank Migrationwatch says.
The change in 10 years has been “extraordinarily rapid”, with 606,000 more people moving out of London than arrived from elsewhere in the country. In the same period, a net 726,000 immigrants arrived in the capital.
Other regions, notably the South West, South East and East Midlands are having to expand rapidly to deal with the white outflow from London, putting strain on their housing, transport, education and health systems.
Of the migration from London, almost 300,000 people moved to the South West between 1993 and 2003 and 181,000 went to the east of England.
Migrationwatch says the changes, even for a city as diverse and as vibrant as London, are “unprecedented”.
It says: “Migration within the UK is mainly from areas of high ethnic minority population to those with predominantly white populations.
“The effect is a rapid increase in the ethnic minority composition of some boroughs, resulting from an outflow of the white population and an inflow of African and Asian international migrants.
“This is accentuated by demographic factors such as the age distribution and fertility rates of some ethnic minority groups. Overall, the result is that the white population of the UK and the ethnic minority are becoming increasingly separated.”
The think-tank says the trend has serious implications for “social cohesion”, a worry expressed by an independent report into the disturbances in Oldham, Burnley and Bradford in 2001.
That report said that different ethnic groups were living “parallel lives” and issued a warning that the segregation and lack of contact between the races built up fear which was easily exploited by extremists.
The London School of Economics registered findings similar to those of Migrationwatch in a study of the latest census figures.
It found evidence for the first time in Britain of the phenomenon known in America as “white flight”, as white families leave areas of high ethnic minority populations. It said that, as a result, members of ethnic minorities in some inner-city areas were becoming more isolated from the white population.
Migrationwatch says there is a “correlation” in London between the rate of people leaving a particular borough and the size of the black and Asian populations there.
For example, Brent had one of the largest net outward migrations and has one of the largest proportions of ethnic minorities at 54 per cent. Newham’s net migration was the second highest and it has the highest proportion of black and Asian people at 59 per cent.
Sir Andrew Green, the chairman of Migrationwatch, said: “As international immigration into London and the South East has risen, outward migration has accelerated.
“This is an extremely undesirable development for long-term community relations.”
The study is likely to add to the acrimonious debate on immigration, which prompted the Government to announce new measures aimed at reassuring voters that the issue was under control.
Tony Blair told MPs yesterday that the reforms would “probably” reduce net immigration, which is running at around 150,000 a year.
But Michael Howard, the Tory leader, said that would not happen without an annual ceiling on immigration, of the sort his party has proposed.
Office for National Statistics figures published yesterday suggested that more workers were arriving from eastern Europe since the enlargement of the EU in May than the Government predicted.
More than 90,000 people from the eight former Soviet-bloc states that joined the EU have come to Britain to stay for longer than three months.
Before enlargement, ministers suggested an annual total of between 5,000 and 13,000 additional migrants.
The Home Office said the figures were based on the International Passenger Survey. “They reflect arrivals only and include seasonal workers, students working here for the holidays and others who are here for shorter periods.”