Comments: Will migrants avoid downturn Britain?

Whatever the future holds, David, it seems to me a tragedy that, as you say, so many of the people Labour got into work were foreigners.

"Mr Brown used his years of prosperity to keep five million Brits on benefits and imported a workforce - which is why two in three jobs .... have been filled by migrants."

So writes Fraser Nelson in the current issue of the Spectator.

In a phrase which should chill the hearts of Nu Lab apologists he continues, "It is also why economic growth has not translated into true 'social justice'. It has passed millions by."

And now as Brown's economic miracle unwinds and HMG runs out of money, times are going to get harder for benefit claimants and the employed alike. For as Frank Field has noted, the challenge for future UK governments is going to be to make public services work on less money, not more.

Posted by bears all at January 29, 2008 10:54 AM

Ever wondered why the migrants were selected over the locals? (Despite hurdles of language, culture, work permits etc. ) The malaise is local and social. The employers are merely rational.

Excellent point made about historical globalisation...would be interesting to find parallels for immigration in history. You may be right - immigration may well be cyclical. Britain too exported migrants to the "colonies" with a similar impact on local economies and social justice.
You may argue that those economies benefited from the skills of the migrant colonizers. So does Britain today.

Posted by Londonsen at January 29, 2008 08:29 PM

"Ever wondered why the migrants were selected over the locals?"

Well, yes. The locals on benefits didn't have sufficient incentive to work, partly because immigration has kept wage increases down, and/or the immigrants were brighter and harder working.

"The employers are merely rational."

Sure. I don't blame the employers.

"You may argue that those economies benefited from the skills of the migrant colonizers. So does Britain today."

Britain benefits to the extent that low wage inflation (something that has puzzled the BoE for years) helped the economy run hotter without problematic inflation. That was fine for those of us who don't compete with immigrants for jobs. But the law of unintended consequences applies. People at the bottom end, their labour denied its proper value in a growing economy, fell further behind. A whole tranche of people remained on benefits who might have been got into work. Artificially low interest rates helped ramp up an asset price explosion. Population growth put
strain on the social infrastructure.

So some people benefit; but does the good outweigh the bad?

Posted by bears all at January 30, 2008 11:23 AM

'Bears all' is, of course correct. Many of the immigrants were/are prepared to move here and live several to a house (minimising living costs) and to send income home (where it buys a lot more for their families than it does here).

If you're unemployed in (say) South Wales with a family, and there was low paid work available in London, would it be rational to do the same? You couldn't afford to move your family to London and the cost of living there (unlike, say, Poland, isn't that much lower than London, so money sent home wouldn't go very far). For low paid work, losing benefits, and adding travel and accommodation costs would make you worse off. You just couldn't contemplate it.

Neither does the tax/tax credit system help. If your wife has low paid work, so you claim tax credits, and you were then to work in London during the week on a low wage, your tax credits would be withdrawn. The effective marginal rate of tax on your extra income (income tax plus withdrawal of tax credits) amounts to around 70% of your income increase.

It is madness - much of it devised by Gordon Brown.

Posted by HJHJ at January 31, 2008 09:19 AM

I do realise that the plural of "anecdote" is not "data", still less the singular, but a friend of mine supports what HJHJ says. He has a medium sized business employing about 30 people, mostly women working part-time. He says that the overwhelmingly his staff play the tax-credit system, declining to work more than a certain number of hours because to do so would lead to a reduction in the credit they receive from the taxpayer. All down to Brown.

Posted by bears all at January 31, 2008 10:04 AM


Do you think that the revisions to the congestion charge, which will mean that an individual with a higher CO2 car in the congestion zone tax will pay an additional tax of approx 6,500 per year, when added to the non-dom tax (on the basis that a lot of the non doms live in the congestion zone), may add more pressure on these individuals to leave?

I know these amounts may only be a drop in the ocean for some non-doms but some press has already been saying that 30k is upsetting a number of non doms and therefore (to the extent that they would be caught by it) then the additional levy imposed by the congestion charge may swing the balance with consequnces on investment and jobs in London when we could probably do without this (not forgetting the x thousand people who will be paying somewhere in the region of 30m to 50m for this higher charge - see Times article 12/2, which is more money being taken out of the London economy which could have been spent here - I appreciate not all drivers come from within congestion zone but a very large % do!).

This is ridciulous!

p.s. apologies if this is not directly relevant to the topic in hand but it seemed indirectly the most suitable topic!

Posted by Charlie at February 18, 2008 11:57 AM