Steven Swinford, Telegraph (London), July 3, 2013
Asylum seekers, refugees and low-skilled immigrants are creating overcrowding, fueling community tensions and putting pressure on the NHS, a government report has found.
Home Office researchers have assessed for the first time the ground-level impact of immigration on British communities by conducting a survey of local authorities and service providers.
They found that immigrants were likely to lead to longer waiting times at GP surgeries, be involved in anti-social behaviour and create pest control issues because of overcrowding.
Mark Harper, the immigration minister, said: “This report highlights the significant impact high levels of migration have had on UK communities.
“It emphasises the importance of protecting our public services and taking a robust approach against those who come here to exploit our welfare system.
“While we have always recognised and believed in the benefits of immigration, uncontrolled immigration causes a number of problems for the United Kingdom.
“If we do not implement the proper controls, communities can be damaged, resources will be stretched and the benefits that immigration can bring are lost or forgotten.”
More than 2.2million people from the EU and 2.4million from outside the EU live and work in Britain.
The Home Office study found that half of people in England and Wales live in an area hit by high levels of migration.
The report found that while most immigrants were based in London and the South East, they had the biggest impact on industrial towns with high levels of unemployment such as Rotherham and Oldham.
Towns with high levels of migrant workers such as Norfolk, Lincolnshire and Lancashire were also likely experience an increased burden on local services.
The researchers surveyed 80 local authorities and service providers on a variety of issues such as health, housing and social cohesion. Their responses were assessed by a panel of 12 experts.
They found that asylum seekers were likely to put the greatest strain on the health system.
Researchers found they are more likely to suffer from depression, anxiety and mental illness, while immigrants in general were more likely to suffer from tuberculosis, HIV and and Hepatitis B.
“This suggests the treatment costs for certain conditions and diseases may be disproportionately attributable to immigrants,” the report says.
Migrants also have more children than people in Britain, creating “additional demands for midwifery, maternity and health visiting services”.
Their poor levels of English meant that GP appointments took “appreciably longer”, leading to longer waiting times for other patients and increasing costs.
Local authorities raised concerns that in some areas demand for primary school places “outstripped supply” because of the number of immigrants, while social services experienced “higher interpretation costs”.
The researchers also warned that the rise in the number of immigrants was leading to more people living in overcrowded, poor quality accommodation, described as “beds in sheds”.
The report found: “Secondary effects of high migrant demand at the bottom end of the private rental market were poor quality, overcrowded accommodation, inflated rents, exploitations by unscrupulous landlords, waste management and pest control issues that can quickly spread, and a growing number of beds in sheds.”
Some local authorities said that destitute migrants and asylum seekers were “disproportionately involved in crimes like shoplifting and disorderly behaviour”.
Asylum seekers, refugees and low-skilled migrant workers were also found to cause tensions in communities because of anti-social behaviour.
It found that low-skilled migrants had taken to drinking in the street because it was the “cultural norm” in their home country.
However, most local authorities said that low-skilled migrant workers were seen as having a “positive” effect on the local economy, particularly when they did “hard to fill jobs”.