Wednesday 16 July 2008
Community cohesion can be adversely affected in areas experiencing rapid inward migration
Publication of Report: Community Cohesion and Migration
Migration can have positive benefits for local communities, MPs find in a report published today, Community Cohesion and Migration. For example, many migrants support the local economy by helping to fill employment vacancies. Nonetheless, the rapid pace of inward migration can lead to pressure on local services and have a negative impact on community cohesion, particularly in areas where there is poverty and/or little previous experience of diversity.
The Chair of the Committee, Dr Phyllis Starkey, said:
"We found that public concerns about the effects of migration are not necessarily based on prejudice, but can arise from genuine anxieties about practical issues, such as the effect of migration on housing and other local services. The Government needs to take action to respond to public concerns about the effects of migration."
MPs found that local public servicessuch as schools, social care, and translation servicesare inadequately funded to respond to the extra demand from the additional population, owing to the flaws in the current funding system. The Government's allocation of money is reliant on population data which is out-of-date and does not take into account rapid population change.
The continued under-funding of local public services not only risks negatively affecting the quality of local public services; it also increases the risk of community tensions escalating as competition for services increases.
In its Report, Community Cohesion and Migration, the Committee calls for the Government to establish a contingency fund to be used to support local government services that are under pressure in areas experiencing inward migration.
The Chair of the Committee said:
"Local services are unable to respond to rapid population changes and are left under-funded as a result of the current funding system. The Government's funding allocations do not take into account the needs of local communities experiencing rapid inward migration. This situation is putting local public services under pressure. The Government should establish a contingency fund to support local communities."
Other recommendations include:
The Government should do more to make English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) accessible to those in greatest need. Employers should pay more towards English language tuition for their employees. A detailed national evaluation is needed on the contribution of ESOL to community cohesion.
The Government should review the effects of migration on Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs), and make it easier for local authorities to regulate HMOs.
The Government's migration policy, including the new points-based system, needs to take into account the effect of migration on community cohesion.
NOTE FOR EDITORS:
1. The Committee carried out three visits as part of this inquiry: to Peterborough, Burnley, and Barking and Dagenham. Details of these visits can be found in the annex at the back of the Report.
2. More information about the Committee's inquiry, and copies of its Report, can be found at www.parliament.clgcom
3. Committee Membership is as follows: Dr Phyllis Starkey MP (Chair, Lab), Sir Paul Beresford MP (Con), Mr Clive Betts MP (Lab), John Cummings MP (Lab), Jim Dobbin MP (Lab/Co-op), Andrew George (Lib Dem), Mr Greg Hands MP (Con), Anne Main MP (Con), Mr Bill Olner MP (Lab), Dr John Pugh MP (Lib Dem), Emily Thornberry MP (Lab).
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