In light of the recent Calais migrant crisis, I thought it would be appropriate to delve into finding out whether the UK’s current level of immigration can be sustained, and if immigrants are generally giving more than they take.
So, let’s get one thing out of the way. Net migration into the UK is increasing. It reached 318,000 in 2014 which makes 2013’s figure of 209,000 pale in comparison. Furthermore, the UK is in the midst of a housing crisis which threatens to make the prospect of buying a house even harder for lower income families. While I believe an increase in council housing will help, the fact that primary schools are struggling to keep up with the demand for places as well highlights that immigration simply cannot continue on this scale. With current projections putting Britain’s population at 70 million by 2027, an increase in immigration is simply incommodious.
That being said, it should be noted that immigrants make a positive contribution to the economy As this article from the Economist points out:
“Immigrants’ overall positive contribution is explained in part by the fact that they are less likely than natives to claim benefits or to live in social housing. Between 1998 and 2011 as many as 37% of natives were receiving some kind of state benefit or tax credit; European immigrants were nearly eight percentage points less likely to collect them. Those from Europe were also three percentage points less likely to live in social housing than Britons.”
Ah! But this does not take into account the status of non-EU immigrants! They must be pulling us back, right?
South Asians, while making up around 4% of the population, contribute to 6% of Britain’s GDP. They are punching above their weight and this can be seen through the fact that the Indian-born Hinduja brothers are the richest men in Britain.
Either the government must take measures to reform the law, or they will face the ignominy of seeing the law being forcefully reformed through illegal mass migration. Order necessitates laws which are well received and which work. Additionally, many of the recent migration crises in the Mediterranean that have led to higher immigration can be attributed in part to the British Government’s decision to intervene in Libya back in 2011. You cannot destabilise a regime and then refuse asylum seekers from those countries. A shipwreck that took place last year is just one of many tragedies that have occurred as a result of the internal instability that arose through intervening. This foreign intervention makes us morally accountable for these displaced people, and consequentially this means we have an obligation to rehabilitate these people. I think this a lose-lose situation and one which can be averted if we simply don’t meddle in the affairs of other nations.
So really the question isn’t one of whether immigration is good or bad. In moderation, there’s no question that immigration is great: heightened cultural diversity, a younger workforce, and filling up jobs that others are not willing to take. What needs to be addressed however, is how much longer we can take in as many people as we do. It’s not something people are comfortable talking about because of political correctness, but we need this discussion more than ever.
In conclusion, I feel that this debate on immigration has been self inflicted in many ways. Some stricter immigration controls, less foreign intervention, and an increase in council housing will make sure that immigrants coming here will no longer face the scrutiny they currently do and will be welcomed with open arms.