Category Archives: Immigration

Three-quarters of jobs created in UK went to workers from EU

UK unemployment, which is still as high as 1,850,000, is now starting to rise again.   Combined with the jobs standstill, the lack of momentum in pay makes this the most worrying set of labour market figures for a long time.   What is equally disturbing is that almost all the increase in employment since the 2008-9 crash has been accounted for by workers from the EU.   Employment among EU citizens born outside the the UK has now risen above 2 million for the first time.   The latest figures point to falling demand for jobs, fewer hours being worked, and little or no evidence of a rise in pay.

The number of non-UK nationals working in Britain over the past year is recorded as having increased by 257,000 to 3.1 million, whilst over the same period the number of working UK nationals rose by only 84,000.   But demand for labour fell during the spring, with the number employed 63,000 lower in the 3 months ending in June than in the first quarter of the year.   In that first quarter employment among UK nationals fell by 146,000 while over the same period employment among workers from overseas rose by 91,000.   It also emerged that since 1997 the proportion of employment accounted for by non-UK nationals increased from 3.7% to 10.3%.

The turnaround in the labour market was expected to generate pressure for higher pay.   That hasn’t happened.   Regular gross pay for employees as a whole remained unchanged at £463 a week in June.   However pay at the top continues to rise sharply.   The High Pay Centre has just released figures which show that the salary ratio between FTSE-100 chief executives and an average worker jumped from 160:1 in 2010 to no less than 183:1 last year.   At the extreme Sir Martin Sorrell, chief executive of the advertising group WPP, took home £42.9 million (£825,000 per week), which works out at 810 times as much as the average WPP employee.

All of this is of course without reference to the quality of the jobs.   We are seeing in both the UK and the eurozone the steady growth of ‘the precariat’.   More than half the eurozone’s young workers are in temporary jobs, churning from one short-lived contract to the next.   The share of the eurozone’s 15-24 year old workers who are temps is the highest on record, a deeply disturbing 52%.   It’s clear that the 2-tier labour market won’t go away without more incisive action.   But for now the priority must be to tackle the ‘black legacy’ of long-term unemployment where  Osborne repeatedly boasts success, yet is now already worsening from a total little short of 2 million.

The ugly face of Tory callousness exposed

With the world’s biggest refugee crisis since 1945, it is perhaps predictable that the Tories’ reflex response is to sensationalise the issue, lie about the facts, and pull up the drawbridge.   May kicks it off with the falsehood that the vast majority of migrants to Europe are Africans motivated by economic self-interest, when in fact 62% reaching Europe by boat this year were escaping persecution from Syria, Eritrea and Afghanistan.   Foreign secretary Hammond portrayed them as marauders risking the collapse of European civilisation, when in fact the number of migrants who have arrived so far this year is precisely 0.027% of Europe’s total population.   Cameron himself described them as a swarm intent of getting welfare benefits, when in fact the number of migrants reaching Calais of those arriving in Europe this year is just 1% and each asylum seeker in Britain gets a measly £36.95 a week to live on, only just over £5 a day, and is not allowed to work to supplement this sum.

Nor has Britain taken anything like its fair share of refugees under the vindictive and callous standards of the Tories.   Last year 25,870 people sought asylum in the UK, but only 10,050 were accepted.   Germany took 97,275, France 68,500, Sweden 39,905 and Italy 35,180.   Calculated as a proportion to population size, Britain comes even lower.   Calculated on 2015 rates, Britain has been even meaner in its reception of asylum seekers than impoverished Greece!   Against the hysteria the government has generated, you would scarcely believe it that the number of refugees in the UK has actually fallen by over 75,000 in the last 4 years.

Then there is the deeply unsavoury Tory involvement in trafficked workers debt-bonded and forced to work in slavery conditions that has just come to light.   Noble Foods, the UK’s largest egg company, used labour provided by DJ Houghton, a gangmaster operation run by Darrell Houghton and Jacqueline Judge at Maidstone, Kent, and its chairman has been a major Tory party donor and lent Cameron a helicopter for the election.   The Lithuanian workers were held in overcrowded accommodation riddled with bedbugs and fleas, denied sleep and toilet breaks, and had their pay repeatedly withheld while Lithuanian supervisors acted as the Houghtons’ enforcers intimidating the workers with fighting dogs and threatening them with instant eviction if they complained.   So much for Cameron’s promise earlier this month to tackle modern slavery in Britain.

Now that the election is safely out of the way, other Tory acts of harshness and vindictiveness have started to trickle out.   They have shelved their manifesto commitment to cap care costs for the elderly in order to save £100m (out of a deficit still stuck at £90bn), on top of cutting by a quarter of a million the number of elderly and disabled persons receiving social care at all.   They have concealed till now that 1 in 6 of all job seekers are hit by benefit sanctions even though the independent social security advisory committee, chaired by the ex-permanent secretary of DWP, have made the case that there is no certain evidence that sanctions actually work in forcing people back into work, but they do cause hunger and impoverishment.


Home Office gives UK citizenship to murderer

Immigration has now become toxic in British politics for well-understood reasons – excessive pressure on public services, concentration of immigrant communities in ghettos, lack of integration, etc.   But it is not till now that the truth is finally coming out about the almost unbelievable incompetence of the Home Office in the mismanagement of this problem, most of it under Theresa May’s current stewardship.   The Tories made it a big deal in 2010 that they would reduce immigration figures below 100,000 in this Parliament, but the number for this year has risen to 260,000 – a bigger missed target even than Osborne’s missed target for the budget deficit which he pledged would be a mere £40bn this year, but is actually £100bn.
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Cameron tries to blame foreigners for UK ‘recovery’ fizzling out

It’s a bit rich for Cameron, in his statement toriseday from Brisbane, blaming the world out there, particularly the eurozone, for the fading UK recovery when those countries are pursuing almost exactly the same economic policies as he is.   That is relentless and unending austerity, which he conspicuously failed even to mention.   Now that the blip in UK economic growth between Q2 2013 and Q4 2014 is manifestly deflating (was this part of the long-term economic plan that Cameron-Osborne continually talk about?), the prime minister needs an alibi.   It’s easy to pick on the eurozone which has indeed only avoided falling back into recession because of a surge in the French government’s public spending (please note, Mr. Cameron), but the reason the eurozone is in such a bad way is that Merkel has enforced unrelenting fiscal austerity – exactly the Osborne programme.   That euro-austerity has crippled the euro southern periphery and has now undermined the German economy itself which depended on that same euro periphery for its export-led growth.
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Study finds migrants pay in £20bn more than they take out

Migrants from the EU have a lower rate of unemployment than the UK-born population, according to an analysis of 201 census data just published by ONS.   They also make a net contribution to the British economy whilst the UK-born population involve a net cost to the economy.   This is a stunning conclusion when the prevailing ideology, persistently promulgated by the Tories and the right-wing tabloids, is that EU migrants are largely ‘benefit tourists’.   What however detailed analysis of the figures shows, as opposed to anecdotes, is that migrants from the 10 Eastern European countries that joined the EU in 2004 contributed nearly a net £5bn to the UK  in the decade to 2011 whilst those from the original 15 EU members generated a net gain of £15bn over the same period.   The analysis further showed that EU 15 migrants contributed 64% more in taxes to the UK than they received in benefits, and migrants from the Eastern European EU members (Poland, Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia and Lithuania) contributed 12% more than they received.

However both migrants from the EU and the UK-born population had a higher rate of employment than migrants from outside the EU, and it is the latter who make up two-thirds of the England and Wales non-UK-born population, about 4.2 million out of 6 million.   Polish people were the most likely to be in work: 81% were employed compared with 69% of the UK-born population.   The lowest employment rate was for Chinese and Bangladeshi migrants, though 76% and 40% respectively were students.

The research also found that EU migrants are significantly younger than the average UK-born resident and also more likely to have a degree.   Significantly also, it was found that Britain tends to attract far more skilled immigrants than other EU countries.   Polish immigrants to the UK, for example, had much higher levels of education than those in Germany.   The study also found that a greater proportion of recent migrants are highly qualified.

It was striking however that the researchers calculated that, as opposed to EU migrants, the non-EU migrants between 1995-2011 involved a net cost to Britain of £118bn, partly due to the higher numbers of children and lower employment rate.   By comparison the EU migrants over the same period brought a net gain of £4bn.   That certainly highlights how far the UKIP argument about EU immigration has falsified the evidence and given a slant to prevailing views which is wholly inaccurate.


Race to the bottom on immigration won’t work

The Tory programme on immigration is set to get the worst of all worlds, with disastrous consequences for Britain over the EU.   The Tories now want to restrict benefits to immigrants and to make citizens from future EU member countries wait longer before they are allowed to work in Britain.   Now Cameron is going further still with rhetoric about ‘fixing’ immigration to Britain from the EU, and has even floated the idea of an ’emergency brake’ on immigration beyond a certain level from even existing EU members.   But an ’emergency brake’ is doomed to fail both ways round.   It’s unlikely to placate UKIP supporters since UKIP will always go further in extreme promises about keeping out foreigners.   It doesn’t even get to the heart of the problem since immigration is clearly a scapegoat for wider economic disgruntlements.   That explains why London, the city most changed by immigration, is generally relaxed about it, whilst several of the areas most determined to keep out immigrants have actually seen very few.   An emergency brake will not calm anxieties in the latter areas even if Cameron could deliver it, which he almost certainly won’t be allowed to by the rest of the EU as Merkel has not made adamantly clear.
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Labour should make inhumanity of Tories a key electoral issue

The Tory government’s decision to withdraw from the search and rescue missions in the Mediterranean where tens of thousands of refugees are fleeing their war-savaged homelands is an act of pitiless inhumanity.   Already this year alone some 25,000 people have arrived in Italy, and similar numbers from Eritrea, with thousands more from Iraq, Nigeria and Somalia.   The numbers who never got there and drowned on the way are not known, but they certainly run into thousands.   To back out of this humanitarian mission is callous and despicable, especially when the motive is plainly to compete with Ukip in being hostile and harsh to migrants.   It is made even worse when the Home Secretary hides behind the disingenuous pretext that saving lives only encourages more persons to risk this treacherous escape route.   It is a shameful indictment to Britain’s reputation as a haven to the persecuted that the UK has resettled less than a tenth of the number of Syrians taken by Germany and Sweden and is now washing its hands of a fundamental humanitarian duty.
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The lessons of Heywood & Middleton

The by-election result in Heywood & Middleton in the Manchester conurbation is deeply worrying for Labour.   It is true that people take liberties in by-elections that they would be unlikely to take in general elections, but it is designed to show their real underlying feelings which it would be unwise to discount or explain away.   It is also true that Labour’s proportionate share of the vote rose by 1%, but that was largely because the Tory vote fell dramatically and the LibDem vote plummeted, and it doesn’t explain why the UKIP vote rose by 35%.   The real reason for this disturbing result is the disillusionment felt by so many working class people in Labour’s northern strongholds that they have been neglected and that their interests have not been properly represented by the Westminster establishment (shades of the No vote in the Scottish referendum).   This was expressed poignantly on the doorstep as ‘the Tories are going to continue with cuts till 2020, and you’ve said you will do the same, so why should we vote for you?’

As we enter the eighth year of continuing austerity this is the first vote in a northern constituency that expresses the resistance bubbling up against a regime of endless cutbacks – average wages already fallen 9% in real terms and still falling, low-paid insecure jobs (even if you can get one) whether self-employment on pittance incomes or zer hours contracts, with benefit cuts forcing people to leave home or use food-banks, and with no sign of any change for the foreseeable future.   What people are crying out for, and want desperately to hear from Labour, is the alternative to austerity that would give them hope and inspire them to come out to vote.   That is a policy of public investment to kick-start the economy on a sustainable course (when the present so-called recovery is already fading before 90% of the population have even felt it), a policy of job creation in house-building, infrastructure and green economy, a policy of rising incomes which will increase government tax revenues which will pay down the deficit much faster (when it’s still £100bn and actually rising this year).

Of course immigrants are blamed for all this disillusionment by Farage, the con-man ex-investment banker posing as a man of the people behind two pints in a pub).   But immigrants are not the root of the problem – austerity is.   All the studies undertaken of the immigrant contribution to the British economy shows that they provide a net benefit, there are a higher proportion of them in work than in the white host community, and a smaller proportion of them are on benefits than in the white community.    There are undoubtedly problems of providing public services, particularly housing and education, in some areas, but that of course is exacerbated by Tory government cuts of 40% to local authority budgets.

Ebola a much-needed wake up call for the West

The President of the World Bank, Jim Kim, got it right when he said last night of the international community: “It’s late, really late……We were tested by Ebola and we failed.   We failed miserably in our response……..Every developed country should be prepared to send trained medical staff to West Africa………We don’t need to stop all travel from these countries.   It’s going to be impossible to stop people.   The way to stop the flow the patients from these countries getting to the rest of the world is to have programmes that will treat people (in their home countries) and increase survival dramatically.   It’s possible”.   But it isn’t nearly happening.   The WHO reports already 3,900 deaths in West Africa from Ebola, though with no sign that the epidemic was being brought under control.
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