Exclusive: Impact of immigrants on British workers ‘negligible’

‘Very little evidence’ of overseas workers taking jobs from Britons, says suppressed report as Government accused of ‘misleading’ public and stoking fears by overstating severity of problem

An unpublished government-wide review has rebuffed repeated claims by Theresa May, the Home Secretary, that immigration has consigned large numbers of British workers to the dole queue. The potentially explosive report concludes that there is “very little evidence” of such job displacement when the economy is growing. One Whitehall source told The Independent the review found immigration had a “negligible” impact on British workers.

The overview of all previous research on the highly sensitive issue since 2003 was conducted jointly by the Home Office, the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills and the Department of Work and Pensions. It refutes the statistic cited by Mrs May from a 2012 study by the Government’s Migration Advisory Committee, which showed that “for every additional 100 immigrants… 23 British workers would not be employed”.

Whitehall insiders said Mrs May had been advised by her officials not to rely too heavily on the statistic because it was not robust enough. One source said the Home Office now looked “pretty isolated”, with other departments including the Treasury and Foreign Office also sceptical that immigration costs British people jobs. But Home Office officials claim other departments are “institutionally biased” towards immigration.

The latest review will now be published shortly after Labour accused Downing Street of suppressing it to spare Mrs May’s blushes. The move will fuel a heated debate inside the Coalition. Liberal Democrat ministers, led by Vince Cable, the Business Secretary, have talked up the economic benefits of immigration and refused to sign up to the Conservatives’ target to cut net migration to less than 100,000 annually by next year’s general election. Meanwhile, political leaders are being urged to abandon their obsession with cutting immigration levels and concentrate instead on building a fairer system that commands widespread public support.

In a report seen by The Independent and to be published shortly, the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) think-tank said that commitments to drive down numbers at all costs are a policy “dead end” because they undermine prospects of economic growth and ignore the growing ease of international travel.

It accused the Conservatives of trying to “turn the clock back” with their pledge to reduce net migration, while Labour risks a policy “cul-de-sac” by “aligning itself fairly closely with the Coalition’s harder-line stance”.

The report called on leading politicians to be honest with the public over their ability to cut immigration. It said: “There are no signs that we will see a return to the low levels of migration of the mid-1990s. Rather, the relatively low levels of the last 20 years are likely to be the norm for the foreseeable future.”

The IPPR acknowledged that the parties are in tune with the voters, but warns they are storing up trouble for themselves by “framing migration very largely around numbers”. Any attempt to pull up the drawbridge would damage Britain’s economy and international reputation, it said.

Tonight Mr Cable will renew his battle with the Tories. Echoing Peter Mandelson’s statement that New Labour was “intensely relaxed about people getting filthy rich as long as they pay their taxes”, Mr Cable will declare: “I am intensely relaxed about people coming to work and study here and bringing necessary skills to Britain – provided they pay their taxes and pay their way.”

Speaking at the Mansion House in London, the Business Secretary will admit that immigration is “politically toxic” and “deeply unpopular” on the doorstep.

Attacking “scare stories” in tabloid newspapers, he will insist that only 3 per cent of migrants claim Jobseeker’s Allowance. “There are a host of reasons to be a tourist to the UK, but its benefits system is not one of them…. We just have to stop treating people coming to work here as if they are a problem.” He will say that Britain will not fully exploit its advantages if it puts up a sign saying “closed for business.”

In his first speech as Immigration minister, the Conservative James Brokenshire will hit back today at Mr Cable’s claim that last week’s rise in net migration was “good news”. He will say: “In the past year net migration from the EU has doubled, and this figure is, frankly, too high. Some have tried to claim this rapid increase is somehow ‘good’ for the country. Well, just like the Home Secretary, I disagree.”

Mr Brokenshire will also say, regarding the Tories’ imiigration target: “As part of our long-term economic plan, the Government wants to reduce net migration to sustainable levels so our economy delivers for people who want to work hard and play by the rules. It remains our aim to reduce it to the tens of thousands.”

For the record: How times have changed

12 December 2012

Fifteen months ago, Theresa May drew on the “stark” conclusions of the Migration Advisory Committee as she warned of the effect of more than a decade of “uncontrolled mass immigration”. She said: “Between 1995 and 2010, the committee found an associated displacement of 160,000 British workers. For every additional one hundred immigrants, they estimated that 23 British workers would not be employed.”

Now

A cross-departmental review into the impact of immigration has concluded there is “very little evidence” of British-born workers losing their jobs to new arrivals from abroad. Downing Street has been accused of blocking its publication because of the political embarrassment it would cause. The document is now expected to be released within days.

Voices
A Russian hunter at the Medved bear-hunting lodge in Siberia
Save the tigerWildlife charities turn to those who kill animals to help save them
News
Davis says: 'My career has been about filling a niche - there were fewer short actors and fewer roles – but now I'm being offered all kinds of things'
PeopleWarwick Davis on Ricky Gervais, Harry Potter and his perfect role
News
i100
Sport
Frank Lampard will pass Billy Wright and equal Bobby Charton’s caps tally of 106 caps against
sportFormer Chelsea midfielder in Etihad stopgap before New York contract
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Arts and Entertainment
The first film introduced Daniel Radcliffe to our screens, pictured here as he prepares to board the train to Hogwarts for the first time.
booksHow reading Harry Potter helps children grow up to be gay-friendly
Arts and Entertainment
A scene from Aladdin is performed at the Tony Awards in New York in June
theatreBrit producer Lythgoe makes kids' musical comedy a Los Angeles hit
Sport
Usain Bolt of Jamaica smiles and shakes hands with a competitor after Jamaica won their first heat in the men's 4x100m relay
sport
News
Chancellor George Osborne, along with the Prime Minister, have been 'complacently claiming the economy is now fixed', according to shadow Chancellor Ed Balls
i100... which is awkward, because he is their boss, after all
Life and Style
A small bag of the drug Ecstasy
Health
Life and Style
Floral-print swim shorts, £26, by Topman, topman.com; sunglasses, £215, by Paul Smith, mpaulsmith.co.uk
FashionBag yourself the perfect pair
News
news
News
Netherlands' goalkeeper Tim Krul fails to make a save from Costa Rica's midfielder Celso Borges during a penalty shoot-out in the quarter-final between Netherlands and Costa Rica during the 2014 FIFA World Cup
newsGoalkeepers suffer from 'gambler’s fallacy' during shoot-outs
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Standing the test of time: Michael J Fox and Christopher Lloyd in 'Back to the Future'
filmReview: A week late, Secret Cinema arrives as interactive screening goes Back to the Future
Extras
indybest
News
i100
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

(Senior) IT Support Engineer - 1st-3rd Line Support

£40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A successful IT service provider that has bee...

Wind Farm Civil Design Engineer

£55000 - £65000 Per Annum: The Green Recruitment Company: The Green Recruitmen...

Principal Marine Mechanical Engineer

£60000 - £70000 Per Annum: The Green Recruitment Company: The Green Recruitmen...

Principle Geotechnical Engineer

£55000 - £65000 Per Annum: The Green Recruitment Company: The Green Recruitmen...

Day In a Page

Save the Tiger: Meet the hunters tasked with protecting Russia's rare Amur tiger

Hunters protect Russia's rare Amur tiger

In an unusual move, wildlife charities have enlisted those who kill animals to help save them. Oliver Poole travels to Siberia to investigate
Transfers: How has your club fared in summer sales?

How has your club fared in summer sales?

Who have bagged the bargain buys and who have landed the giant turkeys
Warwick Davis: The British actor on Ricky Gervais, how the Harry Potter set became his office, and why he'd like to play a spy

'I'm a realist; I know how hard this business is'

Warwick Davis on Ricky Gervais, Harry Potter and his perfect role
The best swim shorts for men: Bag yourself the perfect pair and make a splash this summer

The best swim shorts for men

Bag yourself the perfect pair and make a splash this summer
Has Ukip’s Glastonbury branch really been possessed by the devil?

Has Ukip’s Glastonbury branch really been possessed by the devil?

Meet the couple blamed for bringing Lucifer into local politics
Dress the Gaza situation up all you like, but the truth hurts

Robert Fisk on Gaza conflict

Dress the situation up all you like, but the truth hurts
Save the tiger: Tiger, tiger burning less brightly as numbers plummet

Tiger, tiger burning less brightly

When William Blake wrote his famous poem there were probably more than 100,000 tigers in the wild. These days they probably number around 3,200
5 News's Andy Bell retraces his grandfather's steps on the First World War battlefields

In grandfather's footsteps

5 News's political editor Andy Bell only knows his grandfather from the compelling diary he kept during WWI. But when he returned to the killing fields where Edwin Vaughan suffered so much, his ancestor came to life
Lifestyle guru Martha Stewart reveals she has flying robot ... to take photos of her farm

Martha Stewart has flying robot

The lifestyle guru used the drone to get a bird's eye view her 153-acre farm in Bedford, New York
Former Labour minister Meg Hillier has demanded 'pootling lanes' for women cyclists

Do women cyclists need 'pootling lanes'?

Simon Usborne (who's more of a hurtler) explains why winning the space race is key to happy riding
A tale of two presidents: George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story

A tale of two presidents

George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story
Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover

The dining car makes a comeback

Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover
Gallery rage: How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?

Gallery rage

How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?
Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players

Eye on the prize

Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players
Women's rugby: Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup

Women's rugby

Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup