Following on from Prime Minister Cameron’s election victory, today he continued to express his determination to cut net migration to below 100,000 per annum at the Queen’s speech. This has come at a time when the Office for National Statistics has revealed that contrary to David Cameron’s ambitious target, in 2014 net migration rose to 318,000, increasing 52% from 2013.
Politicians use the rhetoric of “cuts, curbing and clamping down” but are these figures really as pejorative as they are made out to be? Should the UK be forcing hard-working, educated and skilled migrants out of the United Kingdom when it has been proven that there is a direct correlation between skilled migration and prosperity?
As professor Christian Dustmann from University College London once said, “Immigration to the UK since 2000 has been of substantial net fiscal benefit” due to the fact that migrants are statistically paying more taxes than they have received in benefits.
It is understandable that Prime Minister Cameron is under pressure from the growing anti-immigration rhetoric being expressed by other politicians and the public. Furthermore, too much of anything can lead to problems and this phrase could be applied to overspending, over-cutting and even over building. Too many migrants could arguably put a strain on the National Health Service, housing and welfare. However, net migration figures are too quick to point out who came and who left in a one size fits all ambiguous fashion. These statistics are not necessarily a direct reflection of what’s happening on the ground.
Currently students, temporary workers and asylum seekers residing in the UK for over a year are included within the net migration figures. These three categories could make up hundreds of thousands of individuals contained within the migration statistics. It may therefore be realistic to remove these temporary migrants from the figures.
Recent statistics have proven that international students are imperative to the success of the UK economy and our universities. Foreign students in London alone contribute to roughly £2.3 billion to the UK economy each year and universities would struggle without these students who effectively fund the excellent new facilities that can be found all around the country.
Skilled migrants under the Points Based System often apply under the Intra-company Transfer category which means that they may reside in the UK for a maximum of 5 years and have no entitlement to settle.
One could say that it is these hard-working, tax-paying temporary migrants who are being penalised, it is these migrants that are not being mentioned in the anti-immigration rhetoric.