Page last updated at 11:38 GMT, Tuesday, 26 August 2008 12:38 UK

Councils urged to retain migrants

Migrant worker
Migrants often stay for short-term job contracts

The government should plan better so that communities are boosted by the economic benefits generated by migrant workers, a think tank has urged.

Migrants did jobs British workers did not want, the Institute of Public Policy Research said.

But they tended not to settle in the UK and the IPPR urged local authorities to do more to encourage them to stay.

The Communities and Local Government said it tried to maximise benefits and "mitigate" the impact of migrants.

The Labour-leaning think tank, which plans to publish a full report on migration in September, said migrants often have entrepreneurial ideas and skills, leading to new types of businesses.

Migrant workers can bring enormous benefits to local businesses and areas
Laura Chappell
IPPR research fellow

Migrants can also expand the market for firms in the area they move to by establishing links to their countries of origin.

Previous IPPR analysis of immigration statistics showed that more than a million migrants came to the UK from the eight Eastern European countries that joined the European Union in May 2004, but about half of those have already returned home.

As well as retaining migrants, the IPPR suggested the government should ensure that British-born workers receive adequate training and career development opportunities.

Short-term reliance

It urged firms not to become too reliant on the migrant workforce, and said British workers' wages and job opportunities should not be damaged by their presence.

IPPR research fellow Laura Chappell said: "Migrant workers can bring enormous benefits to local businesses and areas.

"However, many of these contributions - such as new ideas and ways of working, and an entrepreneurial spirit - may have been neglected in the past.

"To get the most out of migration, local communities, alongside local leaders, businesses, universities, and central government, need to recognise the variety of benefits that migrants can bring, and plan accordingly."

The public are, rightly, deeply opposed to the present massive levels of immigration
Sir Andrew Green
MigrationWatch UK

But MigrationWatch UK said the last thing Britain needed was more immigrants.

Chairman Sir Andrew Green said: "Our population is increasing by a third of a million every year, mainly due to immigration. We will have to build the equivalent of the city of Birmingham every three years just to cope with this.

"The public are, rightly, deeply opposed to the present massive levels of immigration without encouraging yet more."

Recognised contribution

A spokesperson for Communities and Local Government said: "While the government cannot comment in detail given that the report is not yet published, we recognise that migrants make an important contribution to the economy.

"The government's approach is to both maximise the benefits that migrants bring and to mitigate any transitional local impacts and that is why the Communities Secretary launched the Migration Impacts Plan earlier this year.

"In addition, the Migration Impacts Forum, chaired jointly by Communities and Home Office, regularly brings together government departments, local authorities and others to look at evidence of local impact of migration and to spread good practice."

Last month a report by the Commons communities and local government committee said rapid immigration had damaged community relations in parts of England.

In three areas with high immigration - Peterborough, Burnley, and Barking and Dagenham - community cohesion was among the lowest in the country, the MPs said.

The report said there was "significant public anxiety" over issues such as pressure on public services.

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