Support 100 years of independent journalism.

16 March 2010

Yes, immigration is a good thing, even in London

Report shows that businesses need migrants to compete.

By James Macintyre

There is a tyrannical anti-immigration consensus that lies like a blanket across Westminster. Labour and the Conservatives compete to sound “tough” on immigration these days, with the Tories still wedded to a national cap. Even the Liberal Democrats are, I understand, poised this week to call for a “regional points system” that will seek in effect to redistribute immigration away from the south-east up towards the north and Scotland.

So it is all the more refreshing to learn of a new report by the respected London Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI), showing that 70 per cent of businesses think that the capital would not be as competitive without the contribution of migrants.

From the LCCI:

The survey of 182 London firms in partnership with the polling firm ComRes quizzed companies on a wide range of immigration issues, two years on from the introduction of the UK’s points-based system.

Sign up for The New Statesman’s newsletters Tick the boxes of the newsletters you would like to receive. A weekly newsletter helping you fit together the pieces of the global economic slowdown. Quick and essential guide to domestic and global politics from the New Statesman's politics team. The New Statesman’s global affairs newsletter, every Monday and Friday. The best of the New Statesman, delivered to your inbox every weekday morning. The New Statesman’s weekly environment email on the politics, business and culture of the climate and nature crises - in your inbox every Thursday. Our weekly culture newsletter – from books and art to pop culture and memes – sent every Friday. A weekly round-up of some of the best articles featured in the most recent issue of the New Statesman, sent each Saturday. A newsletter showcasing the finest writing from the ideas section and the NS archive, covering political ideas, philosophy, criticism and intellectual history - sent every Wednesday. Sign up to receive information regarding NS events, subscription offers & product updates.

Migrants are viewed in a positive light by London employers across a number of indicators, with 68 per cent saying they often work harder than their UK counterparts. Similarly, 72 per cent of companies say that migrants are prepared to do the jobs that British citizens won’t.

Content from our partners
Railways must adapt to how we live now
“I learn something new on every trip"
How data can help revive our high streets in the age of online shopping

Employers not only view migrants positively in a general sense, but value their contribution to their own firms as well, with 57 per cent of companies saying that immigrants are important to their own company. However, most businesses (56 per cent) think that migrant workers are not as well qualified as UK employees.

On the controversial subject of the pressure migrants place on public services, the majority of London businesses (56 per cent) think the economic benefits they bring to the capital outweigh the potential cost of providing such services.

Hear, hear. Time for politicians to listen and to speak up for immigrants in this country, many of whom do jobs that we either won’t do, or can’t do.