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Last Updated: Wednesday, 17 October 2007, 09:22 GMT 10:22 UK
Migration 'causes pressure in UK'
Migrant workers picking celery in a field
Migrant reports: Economic benefits but some drawbacks
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 effect of eastern European workers.

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

The forum, which sits alongside a separate economist-led body, gathers reports on challenges raised by immigration across the country.

Homelessness: E Mids and Scotland
Education: S West, E Mids, North West
GP caseload: Sheffield and East Mids
A&E arrivals: East, Lincs and Southampton
Tensions: N West, S West and Scotland
Migrants exploited: Most areas
Note: Report relies on anecdotal reports of problems compiled in eight regions of the UK.
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In a first review of the regional picture, the forum received anecdotal reports of pressures across five key areas: crime and disorder, community cohesion, health, education and housing.

The reports were compiled by regional groups including police, health and education officials. Five out of eight regions told Whitehall they had seen "difficulties" relating to crime and education.

Six of the eight said they were concerned about health service issues.

Seven regions raised the issue of housing - although concerns appear to be focused on exploitation of migrants rather than pressure on accommodation.

All the regions asked for more information on movements of people, including those with children, so they could better plan public services.

'New balance'

The government's Office for National Statistics has already said it is reviewing how it counts migration.

There were also concerns in some areas about an increase in low-level crimes such as driving offences, anti-social behaviour and community tensions.

Immigration Minister Liam Byrne said it was important to "strike a new balance" in immigration policy.

"That means looking at the wider benefits to the British economy on the one hand, but it means we have to take into account the wider impact on British public services and life as well.

"We need to weigh both things up before we take big decisions on immigration including whether to keep restrictions on Bulgarian and Romanian workers."

More resources

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

This confirms what everyone knows but what Labour have been in denial about - that immigration has a real impact on the housing and public service infrastructure
Shadow home secretary David Davis

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.

However, reports passed back to government suggested ways of minimising problems, including briefing packs on British society and laws, encouraging employers to provide English lessons and basic local council help with integrating into communities.

Damian Green, shadow minister for immigration, told the BBC that quotas were needed to balance economic benefits against social impact.

"We say of course you should look at the economics, at the effects on public services, on demand for housing, school places and so on, and that then the government should set an explicit limit every year," he said.

12.5% of working age population
"Clear benefits" to UK
No effect on unemployment
"Modest negative" impact on lowest paid
Source: Home Office report

Dhananjayan Sriskandarajah of the Insitute of Public Policy Research said it was time for government to move from anecdotal evidence to hard facts.

"It is clear that migration brings huge economic benefits to the UK," said Dr Sriskandarajah.

"It is also clear that, although recent migration is presenting new challenges in areas which have received large numbers of newcomers, most local communities around the country are coping very well.

"The key for policymakers will be to tap into the economic potential of immigrants while designing public services that can meet the needs of changing and diverse populations."

Economic report

On Tuesday, the Home Office published a detailed report setting out the economic case for migration, saying 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.

But Sir Andrew Green, chairman of Migrationwatch UK, said migration on the scale Britain was currently facing was having a "huge impact" with "little economic justification".

He added the government must look at cutting the numbers of migrants from non-EU countries.

"You cannot do anything about the eastern Europeans because they are members of the EU and their numbers are likely to decline as the level of these economies come up," he said.

"Three quarters of migrants come from the rest of the world."

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