November 17, 2010
The Scale of immigration
The GLA Briefing claims (paragraph 4) that "net international migration in 2009 was at its lowest level since mid 1995 which is comparable to the government’s target". This is quite wrong. As the paper recognises elsewhere, net international migration in 2009 is estimated at 196,000; in 1995 it was 76,000. The central point is that the average over the past five years has been 200,000 while the ONS projection for 70 million in 20 years is based on the assumption that net migration will continue at 180,000.
The economic impact
The GLA claim that, “If numbers fall in line with government targets… there would be a negative impact of about -1% on GDP”. This is based on a Financial Times article of 18 June which is faulty for reasons fully explained in a Migrationwatch press release of 19 July. Briefly, their calculation assumed that, over a 5 year period, the growth of output would be entirely constrained by the growth of the population over the age of 16. However, with 2.5 million unemployed a shortage of labour is not the main constraint on output.
Furthermore, this claim ignores the point that what matters, as the House of Lords Select Committee on Economic Affairs pointed out, is GDP per head. There is nothing in the GLA briefing to suggest that this might fall.
The corrected briefing claims that "80% of overseas students leave the UK within 5 years of entering". In fact, the Home Office research to which they were referring found that 80% were "no longer in the system". That is not to say that they had left the country. There are still no records of departure. In fact, there is anecdotal evidence to suggest that overstaying students are a significant part of net migration.