Immigration 'boosts the British economy by £1,650 per head'

Immigration has provided a £1,650-a-head boost to the economy over the last decade by helping British companies to grow faster, research has concluded.

Home Office statisticians calculated that £300 of the growth in Britain's per head gross domestic product (GDP) last year was attributable to an influx of workers from overseas. It follows a steady series of increases in the previous nine years, adding up to a £1,650 rise between 1997 and 2006.

The research also rejected claims that immigration from eastern Europe has depressed wages or increased joblessness among UK nationals. They said: "Migration supports growth in GDP per head by allowing employers greater choice in a wider labour market, ensuring an improved match between vacancies and available labour."

They said that migrant workers made a "strong net fiscal contribution overall" to the economy.

The Home Office report also said the effect of immigration was to drive up skills standards across the general workforce.

The report was intended as a rebuttal to criticism from the House of Lords economic affairs committee, which concluded two months ago that immigration had had "little or no impact" on Britain's economic prosperity.