Before any such debate or discussion can be started I firmly believe it is essential that we rid ourselves of the word ‘racism;’ a word that must be used in the correct manner, and not as a last ditch attempt to face off people who oppose immigration. Both sides of the argument come from the perspective of people who are doing what they think is best for Britain and as always, the answer to this huge socio-economic problem lies somewhere in the grey area between the two arguments that oppose each other so fiercely.
It is important to understand that immigration in this country is, in theory, economically beneficial. Since the year 2000, statistics taken by the home office show that immigrants from the European Economic Area paid 34% more into the system (via tax) than they took out (via benefits such as health care). It also showed that immigrants not in the EEA, paid 2% more in than they got out. Clearly immigrants on the whole are good for the economy and support economic growth. They are in some people’s opinions financing the client state and the average Briton, who is paying 11% less in tax than they are receiving in benefits.
Obviously these statistics are very favourable towards immigration but they only show the overall NET movement of wealth from immigrants into the British system, and this wealth comes from a very small group of individuals. In fact, of the hundreds and thousands of immigrants that enter our shores every year, it is a tiny percentage of this that actually pays more into the system than they get out. It is they who take advantage of the welfare state and they in some ways mask the vast amount of money that the majority of immigrants are taking out the system.
Overall, immigration is good for our economy and we are better off with it than without it, however, what I would encourage the UK government towards is adopting possibly a tougher approach to immigration, maybe mirroring what our cousins across the pond seem to be doing. This is where our country would only accept people who would contribute to the economy, allowing skilled workers and promising verified students to enter, but prohibiting people who are taking from the system from gaining residency in the UK. Although a policy such as this seems heartless, it merely cuts immigrants who make our country poorer and thus increases the net wealth from immigrants to the British system, as now less money is being taken out.
A policy such as this would also solve the population crisis which Britain is most certainly due for. Both the infrastructure of this country and the welfare system are being over-stretched for one simple reason: over-population. British population is headed for the 70 million mark by 2027. For every million added to our population, 440,000 of those are immigrants - if we can reduce this number, this gives our country more time to compensate for the increased number of people as then our population would increase at a slower rate.
The failure of our current infrastructure is causing huge social tensions between the indigenous population and immigrants within this country, and this is why the subject of immigration has come under such debate by politicians. It has only risen by the pure discontent of the people as the country is starting to fail them. The segment of society that immigration is really effecting, is the lower earning, unskilled British workers who are now forced into an overly flexible and overly competitive job market, where the only jobs they can get are underpaid and involve very long hours. Many Britons have lost their jobs to immigrants who are prepared to work for longer and for less income. British workers, since the Blair government’s decision to open our gates to immigrants, have suffered increased unemployment and subdued wages. If immigration could be lowered then employers would have more incentive to invest in the British work force before them, increasing our competitiveness and helping to reduce our deficit.
Unfortunately, a policy such as this is impossible, as we are bound by the European Union to allow access to our country to anyone who lives inside the EU regardless of their skill set and the unhealthy population size of our country. This European Law isn’t changeable for the foreseeable future and there is no point in Britain tackling it head on just yet. However, this policy could be utilised for immigrants outside the EU and could reduce such immigration figures. However, a policy such as this would be very difficult to pass through parliament, as politicians would be worried it would send the wrong message to the rest of the world; it would show Britain to be an unwelcoming country that is prejudiced towards non-UK residents. It would also be very hard to distinguish which immigrant is going to contribute and which is going to take from the system, also what would we deem a ‘skilled worker’ or ‘promising student’ and how would we decide who has the desired skill sets to enter Britain?
There is a way of discouraging immigrants from entering Britain from the EU, however, without breaking any EU laws, and this is to lower any welfare benefits given to EU immigrants who enter the country. Although a discriminatory policy, it would save Britain money and would lower the number of immigrants entering Britain whose motives are to better themselves via the welfare system. Unfortunately, this would not play well with our trading partners within the EU, and politicians again would not pass such a policy unless backed by the EU for fear of ‘upsetting’ their neighbours.
Immigration is an extremely hot issue and it’s hard to do something about it without creating more problems. I for one, certainly do not envy the government’s position as whatever they do to significantly lower immigration, will certainly not be a perfect solution (the law of unintended consequences being so). Politicians however, have to do something; social arrest is mounting and the country’s infrastructure simply cannot handle any more people. The current rate of immigration is unsustainable and damaging to the country, and it has to be lowered or there will be severe consequences for Britain.