Daily Mail (UK), August 29, 2006
Four out of five migrants take more from the British economy than they contribute, a report has warned today.
The analysis demolishes the Government’s key claim that migrants pay more in taxes than they take back in public services.
Instead, a small number of very high earning foreign workers are masking the fact that 80 per cent of immigrants are taking more out of the economy than they contribute over their lifetimes.
Only one in five is earning the £27,000 a year required to make a positive contribution over the course of their lifetime. It means that, if they settle here, they will cost the taxpayer money.
The report’s author, Migrationwatch UK, said it proved the case for only highly-skilled economic migrants — such as doctors and engineers — to be allowed to settle in Britain.
It heaps even greater pressure on Home Secretary John Reid to call an end to Labour’s ‘open door’ migration policy.
Sir Andrew Green, Migrationwatch chairman, said: ‘The Government and its supporters repeatedly trot out favourable looking statistics which seek to give the impression that immigration in general has a very positive effect on the UK economy.
The reality is that immigrants are extremely varied. A minority are highly skilled and highly paid but a large majority will end up as a cost to the taxpayer if they settle here permanently.’
The Government calculates adult migrants make-up 10.6 per cent of the population, but contribute 10.9 per cent of the country’s Gross Domestic Product — its total economic output.
This is the basis for its claim they make a ‘small but positive’ contribution to the economy.
But, using the Government’s own Labour Force Survey, Migrationwatch says this calculation fails to show the full picture.
To make a positive contribution to GDP over the course of a person’s lifetime, they must earn £27,000 a year.
This is the equivalent of paying £7,600 a year in income tax and other taxation, and would cover the costs of healthcare and other public services into retirement.
Only 20 per cent of migrants achieve this. But, many of those that do — such as financiers, engineers and NHS consultants — earn large amounts of money.
This makes it appear that migrants in general are making a positive contribution to GDP when, in fact, they are only a small minority of the total number.
Some eight out of ten earn less than £27,000, with a large number — including many eastern Europeans — on the minimum wage of less than £10,000 a year.
Britons are in the same position, with eight of ten of those born here not earning £27,000 and higher earners paying the majority of the tax bill.
But the difference is that the government can choose which work-related migrants are allowed to settle in the UK, and therefore has the option to select only those who will provide a boost to the economy.
Migrationwatch says that, as a result, only those earning more than £27,000 — and who are filling a vacancy that cannot be taken by an EU citizen — should be allowed to settle here by the Government’s new advisory panel on immigration.
The panel, announced by John Reid last month, is to set an ‘optimum level’ of economic migration to he UK when it finally meets in two years’ time. Any limit will exclude asylum seekers, and those given permission to live here for family reasons.
Sir Andrew said: ‘To most people the measures we are suggesting are simple common sense. This research demonstrates once more that there is no economic case for massive immigration into the UK.
‘The Home Secretary is right to say that we need to balance economic gain against social costs.
‘The social costs of the present massive levels of immigration, including their impact on infrastructure and public services, far outweigh any possible benefit.’
The Government is powerless to restrict the number of migrants moving to Britain from within the EU, including eastern Europe. More than 600,000 have flooded in from the former Eastern Bloc since the controversial expansion of the EU two years ago.
Up to 300,000 Romanians and Bulgarians are expected to follow when they join next year, unless the Government restricts their right to work here.
The study will add further fuel to the immigration debate, which has led to demands from former Labour Ministers to limit the number of new arrivals.
Ex-Minister Frank Field said that, even without any new arrivals, there are not enough houses in the UK to adequately house the current population.
Former Home Office Minister John Denham said that Britain was already struggling to cope with record levels of immigration and was not ready for fresh waves.
The Conservatives have called for restrictions on Bulgarians and Romanians. The Government has hinted limits could be imposed, but is yet to reach a firm decision.
A Home Office spokesman said it could not comment on the report in detail, as it had not yet seen it.
But he added the contribution made by migrants to British life could not be measured simply in terms of economic output.
It added a new points-based entry system for economic migrants would take into account factors such as salary, and whether an applicant is highly-skilled.