Immigration is good for the economy – put that on the side of a bus

Only a government with a particular gift for mismanagement could contrive to combine a recession with a labour shortage, writes Sean O'Grady

Wednesday 19 February 2020 18:46 GMT
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Priti Patel at Imperial College London where she announced new immigration curbs
Priti Patel at Imperial College London where she announced new immigration curbs (PA)

Some years ago, the Bank of England, reflecting in a slightly self-satisfied way about the (then) impressive progress of the British economy, estimated that increased EU migration after 2004, added about 0.25 per centage points a year to the growth in our national income. In today’s money, that equates to about £5bn per annum (and every annum), or around £100m per week.

Put that on the side of a bus, if you like.

As a result of the unprecedented movements of workers from eastern Europe (in particular) that the UK experienced, there was more money swilling around than would otherwise be the case. That money was keeping people in work and creating jobs (rather than “taking our jobs”), allowing businesses to recruit and expand, ensuring higher tax receipts for public services, and all the rest of it. Of course, all that was before the financial crash and the age of austerity, but the point still stands; migration tends to be good for economies, whatever state they happen to be in.

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