City of Sanctuary Sheffield and partners including Northern Refugee Centre, BME Network, Cohesion Advisory Group and the two Universities, Sheffield and Sheffield Hallam, have been co-ordinating a series of events to publicise the facts around migration. The first of these was a seminar held in February 2015 where academics presented the facts on the key issues of Benefits, Housing and Employment. You can read the headlines from those presentations below.

Employment

Refugees and other migrants make a significant contribution to the UK economy, paying proportionately more into the public purse than their UK born counterparts. It is estimated that refugees expelled from Uganda in the 1970’s have created more than 30,000 new jobs in Leicester. In 2008, more than 1,200 medically qualified refugees were recorded on the British Medical Association database.
Other facts about refugee and migrant impacts on the UK labour market are recorded below:
• Asylum seekers (with very few exceptions) are not allowed to work
• Asylum seekers caught working illegally are liable to be sent to prison

• If Polish people and other E8 migrants went home it would cost the UK £22bn
• EU migrants pay in 34% more than they take out in services
Migrants’ impact on wage levels is small, but has a greater effect on the pay of migrants already working in the country. It is unscrupulous employers – such as Gangmasters – who push down wages, and fines have proved to be too low to serve as a deterrent
• A recent study(Geddes et al, 2013) suggests there are more than 3,000 people working as forced labour in the UK
• these include UK citizens
Forced labourers suffer from:
• low or no wages
• excessive hours
• threats & coercion – eg. Identity documents retained by employer
• unsafe working conditions

Another study (Anderson & Ruhs, 2012) found that simply cutting immigration does not reduce demand for migrant workers.
• The Daily Mail reported that 140,000 extra immigrants are needed every year to meet the cost of caring for the elderly in Britain.
It is important also to note that migration is not a one-way street.
• 5 million Brits live abroad
• 300,000 British nationals are registered in Spain
• true figure (in Spain) likely to be 1 million
• older people tend to migrate to Spain
• younger, fitter migrants tend to come to the UK
• British migrants cost Spanish health services 300million Euros a year

Housing

Migration holds a mirror up to society and prompts reflection about social issues that might otherwise be brushed under the carpet of political and popular debate. So it is with housing. Housing is one of the key issues around which popular and political debate about the impacts and consequences of migration has coalesced.

THE FACT IS – that England is suffering a housing crisis:
• building fewer houses than at any time since 1945
• home ownership beyond the reach of many
• shortage of affordable homes
• 1.5 million+ households waiting for social housing
• overcrowding on the rise – 600,000+ households
• people struggling with the costs of housing
• increase in repossessions & evictions
• homelessness on the rise

THE FACT IS – 

  •  New migrants typically fill voids in the housing stock left aside or avoided by other households.
  • Migrants often end up living in unpopular neighbourhoods and in poor quality housing, usually in the private rental sector. Such housing is often overcrowded and in a poor state of repair. Insecurity is a major problem.
  • Difficulties with paying the rent and limited recourse to public funds can increase the risk of eviction and homelessness for many migrants.

HOUSE PRICES

  •  house price growth nothing new
  • ratio of house prices to earnings rising without migration
  • migration = minor factor behind rising demand / prices
  • variable geography of impact
  • some evidence of price rises in high-end market in London
  • some evidence that prices can fall in poorer neighbourhoods
  • zero net migration – still need ~ 250,000 new homes p.a. (Nickell, 2011)

ACCESS TO SOCIAL HOUSING
• the eligibility of foreign nationals to social housing is tightly governed by statutory regulations
• migrants are rarely skilled players of the welfare system
• migrants are entering social housing in relatively small numbers
• failure to distinguish between new migrants, foreign nationals and people born outside the UK

In 2013 94.7% of new social tenants in Sheffield were UK citizens. 1.3% were from A8 countries, none were from A2 countries 0.6% from other EEA countries and 3.4% from elsewhere. (Source: CORE)

Benefits

The facts suggest that when you compare what migrants bring to the UK and what they take out the net result is a benefit to the UK.

  •  Non EEA and EEA migrants who arrived since 2000 made a fiscal contribution to the economy (put more into the economy than they took out) in the period 2001 to 2011. Specifically, EEA nationals put in 34% more than they got out and Non-EEA nationals put in 2% more than they got out.
  • Non-EU migrants do not have recourse to public funds until they have been resident in the UK for 5 years, so benefits alone are not realistic as the primary motivation for non-EU migrants to travel to the UK.
  • The UK’s membership of the European Union means that citizens of EU countries who come to the UK do have access to its welfare system on essentially equal terms with British citizens.
  •  Less than 5% of EU migrants are claiming jobseekers allowance, while less than 10% are claiming other DWPworking age benefits. (Migration observatory. Commentary. Costs and Benefits: Benefits tourism, what does it mean? Published 21/02/2014)
  • In 2013, the employment rate of EU migrants is 77.5% – which rises to nearly 80% for A8 nationals though is lower, at 74%, for A2 nationals – the employment rate of UK nationals in the same period was 71.7%. This suggests that the vast majority of EU migrants do not use out-of-work or working age benefits.

“Health tourism”

  •  There is no clear definition of what a health tourist is. Recent usage in the media has broadened the definition to include short term migrants who have a legal right to use the service.
  •  Migrants from outside the EU who aren’t ordinarily resident in the UK are required to pay for treatment they receive. Personal details are taken at A&E which establishes whether the individual should be paying for the service or not.
  •  The government suggests that the “best estimate” for income from health tourists with ‘deliberate intent’ would be £20-100 million. To put these sums in context, the NHS’s budget for 2012/13 is £108.9 billion. This means, according to the government’s own calculations, that overseas visitors currently account for 0.2% at best and 0.9% at worst of the total NHS expenditure.