David Barrett, Telegraph (London), March 12, 2014
Immigrants have cost the taxpayer more than £22 million a day since the mid-1990s, totting up a bill of more than £140 billion, according to a new report.
MigrationWatch UK, which campaigns against mass immigration, added that in 2011 the costs were equivalent to £3,000 for each of the eight million foreign-born people living in Britain.
It compiled the figures in response to a study published by University College London (UCL) last year which claimed immigrants made a “substantial” contribution to public finances.
The pressure group’s new report said UCL’s conclusions–which were given prominent coverage by the BBC–were “simply wrong”.
In fact, immigration between 1995 and 2011 cost the taxpayer more than £140 billion, or £22 million a day, after balancing what immigrants pay in tax with what they take out of Britain’s coffers by claiming benefits and tax credits, it said.
In 2011 alone the cost was £23 billion, or £3,000 each for the eight million foreign-born population, the group concluded. The sum was equal to the amount spent by the NHS on GPs and dentists in a year.
Sir Andrew Green, chairman of Migration Watch UK, said: “Our report finally disposes of the immigration lobby’s oft repeated claims that immigration reduces our tax burden.
“The total cost is high and increased dramatically between 1995 and 2011, providing no compensation for the overcrowding of this island which we are experiencing, largely as a result of immigration.”
MigrationWatch accused the authors of the UCL report, Prof Christian Dustmann and Dr Tommaso Frattini of the Centre for Research and Analysis of Migration, of burying a crucial figure in an annexe of their original report, published in November.
It was claimed the UCL study found the overall impact of immigration had been £95 billion but this “was not even mentioned in the text of the report”, said MigrationWatch.
It added that the omission was “truly astonishing”.
A separate figure by UCL on the cost of immigration since the year 2000 was also wildly inaccurate, MigrationWatch claimed.
While UCL said immigrants made a fiscal contribution of £25 billion since the turn of the century they have, in fact, cost the taxpayer £27 billion, it said.
The new study used the same methodology as the UCL study but adopted what MigrationWatch claimed are more realistic assumptions about immigrants’ earnings and investments.
It also pointed out: “Similarly the claim that recent European Economic Area migrants are only half as likely to claim ’benefits or tax credits’ is highly misleading.
“Recent EEA migrants are much more likely to receive tax credits than the UK-born population, and more likely to receive housing benefit, and these are likely to be paid at higher rates in view of their lower incomes.”
The new report added: “The claim that recent EEA migrants contributed 34 per cent more in revenues than they received in state expenditures is simply wrong.”
Immigration to Britain continued to have a “significant fiscal cost”, it concluded.
Prof Dustmann rebutted MigrationWatch’s criticisms of the original report.
“The report is written in a derogatory language seemingly attempting to undermine our reputation with suggestions that we do not adequately describe our methodology or comment on all our results. We are in fact very open about our methodology–which has been acknowledged even by earlier critics of our work,” he said.
“Their strongly worded criticism is all the more surprising as the MigrationWatch report is based on a substantial amount of guesswork, does not provide clear indication of how their figures are computed, and is at times sloppy or simply wrong.”