Breaking the Dependency: Unraveling the UK's Reliance on Immigration

United Kingdom

The difficulties encountered by Rishi Sunak were compounded by the news of record migration data just as the ink on last week's autumn statement was almost dry. The problem was made worse by the Supreme Court's decision to strike down the government's asylum seekers strategy

The three main economic issues facing the UK are immigration, taxation, and the gloomy economy. According to polls, Keir Starmer may shortly inherit these issues.

Migration in Economic Liberal Lens

Free mobility of labour, according to proponents of economic liberalism, is compatible with the free flow of capital and goods and is necessary for a globalised economy. However, the dangers of unrestricted money transfers were made clear by the financial crisis of 2008. 

There is currently a backlash against migration in the UK and other Western countries. Voters favour government-managed control, even though they accept that some migration is unavoidable. In Sunak's four years in office, net migration has increased thrice, despite the Conservatives' pledge against this.

Challenges and Public Opinion

Migration may not be the nation's top concern, but according to a YouGov tracker poll, 60% of respondents think it is too high. Not much has changed in this view since the election of 2019. Compounding the economic issues are scarcity of housing, excessive rental rates, and growing property values; in 2022, the volume of immigration amounted to 2.5 times that of the pre-Brexit referendum.

An image of a street in UK - Unraveling the UK's Reliance on Immigration

Benefits and Dependency

There are benefits to record migration levels despite the difficulties. Staffing shortfalls in social care and the NHS are being addressed by new entrants. Employment levels have not yet returned to pre-COVID levels, despite the record migration in 2022. 

The scarcity of labour would be worse if workers were not born abroad. Additionally, as Jeremy Hunt noted in the autumn statement, migration helps the economy flourish. "Instead of expanding, the economy would be contracting. GDP per capita, a more accurate indicator of living conditions, will decrease by 0.3%."

Addressing the Root Causes

The article recommends putting aside physical obstacles and concentrating on the causes of individuals' departure from their native nations. This entails keeping your word to support developing nations, contributing to climate change adaptation, lowering trade barriers, and expanding aid. 

Immigration is essential for halting population decrease in affluent nations due to pull factors like ageing populations and declining birth rates. Nonetheless, the UK's addiction to immigration feeds a low-productivity trap and deters companies from acquiring new technologies.

A comprehensive industrial strategy, increased funding for the NHS and social services, and specially designed programmes that ease the shift from welfare to employment are all necessary to break this habit. Breaking this dependency is the issue; it's like trying to kick an addiction "cold turkey."


What are the advantages of the UK's unprecedented levels of migration?

Positive effects of record migration numbers include reducing employment gaps, fostering economic growth, and addressing staffing shortages in the NHS and social care. Foreign-born workers are vital because employment has not yet returned to pre-COVID levels, despite public worries.

What role does immigration have in the UK's economic expansion?

By addressing personnel shortages in vital sectors like the NHS and social care, migration promotes economic growth. The economy would contract without net migration, making it difficult to achieve growth ambitions.


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