Corbyn is right to call for migrant impact fund

by Hugo Dixon | 28.09.2016

Migrants are beneficial to our country as a whole. This is particularly clear as far as free movement from the EU goes. Those who arrived since 2000 contributed £20 billion more in taxes to our economy than they consumed in public services in the following decade, according to research by UCL.

But the money doesn’t always end up where it is needed. A sudden influx of people can put strains on local communities and services such as schools and GP surgeries. This is why Jeremy Corbyn is right to call for a migrant impact fund to channel money to those communities that need it most.

But there’s no need to wait for an improbable Labour victory to implement such a scheme. Theresa May should launch it without delay. After all, last year’s Conservative manifesto promised such a fund.

David Cameron’s decision to scrap the migrant impact fund originally launched by Gordon Brown – and then to fail to reinstate it despite promising to – was one of his many errors. If he hadn’t done this, the referendum result might have been different. After all, according to an analysis by the LSE: “even though areas with relatively high levels of EU migration tended to be more pro-remain, those places which had experienced a sudden influx of EU migrants over the last 10 years tended to be more pro-Leave”.

But it would be a mistake to think a migrant impact fund isn’t needed now we have voted to quit the EU. After all, migration of non-EU citizens is larger than migration of EU citizens, according to the ONS. So whatever happens on Brexit, we will need to work harder to make sure that migration works for all communities – not just for the country in aggregate. Channelling money to places where it’s needed isn’t the whole answer. But it’s certainly part of it.

Edited by Michael Prest