Migration 'causes pressure in UK'

Almost every UK region has difficulties in housing, health, education and crime because of increased migration, according to an official report.

The findings are contained in a report drawn up to advise ministers on the social impact of immigration.

The Home Office's Migration Impacts Forum is meeting to discuss the affect of eastern European workers.

On Tuesday ministers published a review of immigration research showing "clear benefits" to the British economy.

The Forum, chaired by two ministers, was set up to gather evidence and recommend ways of dealing with challenges raised by immigration across the country.

It sits alongside a separate economist-led body that from next year will advise ministers which sectors of the economy should be open to migration. Similar systems operate in other countries.

But in a first review of the regional picture, a presentation prepared for the impacts forum warns that pressures are being felt across five key areas: crime and disorder, community cohesion, health, education and housing.

Five of the eight regional bodies feeding information back to Whitehall said they had seen difficulties relating to crime and education. Six out of 10 said they were concerned about health service issues.

Only one of the eight regions did not draw attention to pressures on housing - although many problems were said to be with unscrupulous landlords rather pressures on housing stock.

Regions said they needed more information on movements of people, including those with children, so they could better plan public services.

Over the past year an increasing number of local authorities have raised concerns over immigration.

They say that while their areas have economically benefited from more workers, public services may be suffering if funding does not reflect how their areas are changing.

Cambridgeshire Police's chief constable clashed with the Home Office in September after warning her force needed more resources to cope with immigrant-related pressures.

But reports passed to the forum also recommend ways of minimising problems, including briefing packs for newly-arriving workers, more English lessons and getting employers to do more to socially integrate newcomers into communities.

On Tuesday, a separate paper published by the Home Office set out the economic case for migration, saying that all evidence pointed towards a "clear benefit" to the UK.

It said claims that Eastern European workers had taken jobs from British people were unsubstantiated - instead they had contributed towards an expanding of the economy.

However, it added that some of the lowest paid workers can lose out in the face of cheaper foreign workers, even with the minimum wage in place. ( BBC )

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