A major region-wide report into the impact of immigration says its impact has been good for the economy - but calls for more action on the challenges it has brought.
East Midlands Council today launched ‘The Impact of International Migration on the East Midlands’ - which pinpoints Boston as a case study.
The report, which includes official data and analysis from Nottingham Trent University, concludes that international migration has generally been good for the economy, that recent migrants make a net contribution to the UK budget and are less likely to claim state benefits than the non-migrant population.
It states that Boston has the highest proportion of residents born in ‘EU Accession’ countries - largely Eastern European countries that joined the EU in 2004 – of any local authority in England and Wales at 10.6 per cent.
It also re-iterates the fact that Boston’s non-UK born population jumped from 1,727 in 2001 to 9,790 in 2011 - a rise of 467 per cent.
The report also highlights four key challenges that must be addressed to help ‘community cohesion’:
*That there is not one single source of data on migrant communities - which would help councils plan and deliver services
*Councils have had no extra cash help to care for ‘vulnerable’ migrants despite changes to policy to leave them more responsibility
*Councils want a greater say in where asylum seekers go
*There is a lack of provision for teaching English to new arrivals - with a knock-on cost for councils who have to translate materials
The report goes on to make twelve recommendations on specific measures to address these challenges, including:
*Government should ensure law changes that have an impact on migrants do not result in ‘additional unfunded new burdens on councils’
*Ethnicity and country of origin data should be recorded for patients
*The Government and NHS England should work with councils to improve the data relating to the future demand for school places
Coun Jon Collins, chairman of East Midlands Councils, said: “The impact of international migration is a controversial and politically contested issue – but we need to talk about it.
“The lack of an informed debate within Parliament, the media and public at large has been very damaging.
“This report seeks to ‘shine a light’ on the issues from an East Midlands perspective. We hope that it will be used positively to improve policy and practice at national and local levels.”
Boston borough councillor Paul Kenny, is chairman of the East Midlands Strategic Migration Partnership.
He said: “The report demonstrates the importance of joint working by councils and stakeholders at both a local level and through Regional Strategic Migration Partnerships. If we work more effectively together, I am sure we can tackle many of the concerns we are hearing from local people.”
Boston head of housing Andy Fisher provides a case study of the borough’s immigration inquiry.
He said the council’s report led to things such as: the removal of benches in trouble hotspots, funding to tackle rogue landlords, sending home migrants not abiding by their treaty rights, action to regulate foreign vehicles.
He added: “The report was a catalyst for change and has made many accept that it is fine to talk openly and honestly about migration and the challenges it brings as well as the opportunities it offers.”