migrant community groups
In a recent article over at Public Finance Neil Merrick casts a sympathetic eye over the plight of local authorities who are being expected to pick up more and more of the mess caused by central government cuts even though their own budgets are stretched thin. Many migrants with the legal right to live and work in the UK have a no recourse to public funds (NRPF) condition imposed on them by central government. This means that if they become unemployed, or are in serious need because the income they receive is too low, or the cost of their housing increases, they have no access to any benefits.
The news that projections for economic growth for the period ahead are being upgraded because of expectations that net immigration will continue at rates well above the targets set by government is consistent with all the views that have been coming from expert commentators in recent months.
Europe’s efforts to address what is so often presented as an immigration crisis at its external borders continue to push and pull is various contrary directions. At some points the European Union likes to emphasis its capacity to enforce the policing and management of movement across borders, but at others the maintenance of the continent’s reputation as a region of human rights. It shouldn’t be doubted that it takes both of these roles seriously and continues to hold out the hope that, through dialogue and negotiation, a way will be found which allows border and immigration controls to be squared with fair treatment and a degree of justice for those who are seeking entry to the countries which are a part of the Union.
Okay, against this sunny optimism are opinion polls which continue to show a large majority in favour of reducing migration levels. A major objection to receiving newcomers – that we are a small island with a finite amount of space – seems still to be firmly in place as a reason why so many people want to see less movement across borders. But other anti-immigrant arguments have fallen by the wayside during the past year. Politicians who want to argue that immigration is responsible for the British unemployment levels have been set back by the fact that the total volume of people in work over the past year has increased whilst net inward migration here continued to be strongly positive.
Last week, MRN held its annual Migration Summit in London. This year’s event, held in the wake of the recent UKIP surge in local and EU elections and with less than 12 months to go until next year’s general election, aimed to develop a common sense of the challenges and opportunities for the migration sector over the coming period. MRN’s chief interest was in establishing the scope for joint campaigning ahead of May 2015, in order to maximise our collective impact on public and policy debate. There to help us with that modest task were 75 migrant advocates from across the migration sector and beyond, and our key contributors Julian Huppert MP, Neal Lawson (chair of COMPAS), Alex Glennie (ippr), Saira Grant (JCWI), Eiri Ohtani (Detention Forum), Sunder Katwala (British Future), and many more. So what did we find out from the 2014 Migration Summit?