The price tag of a EU exit or tighter immigration controls is estimated to be in the region of £60billion. That is the amount the UK could suffer in lost GDP by 2050, according to the recent report from Harvey Nash recruiters and the think tank Centre for Economics and Business Research ('CEBR'). The CEBR's analysis adds supports the ONS's findings a few weeks ago that the UK would need seven million more migrants over the next 50 years to keep national debt levels down.
Critics of the report are not convinced and have branded the reports conclusions as "madness". Our government continues to report that immigration is a "constant drain" on Britain's public services,as stated by Prime Minister David Cameron in July. Accordingly, the government plans to cap net UK immigration.
However it is hard to deny the statistics that without migrants from the EU helping to off-set the UK's ageing population, government borrowing would be 0.5% higher. The Office for Budget Responsibility ('OBR') has already warned us that "the UK's ageing population was squeezing public finances". OBR stated that there was "clear evidence" that migrants, who tend to be working age, have a "positive effect on the public sector's debt dynamics".
Yet another myth buster came from the Analysis of Census data, which suggests that there is little evidence of welfare tourism among EU migrants - "they are less likely than those born in the UK to be unemployed, long-term sick or disabled". This is supported by the CEBR report, which concludes that migrant workers are more likely to be in work (63.3 per cent) than UK-born citizens (56.2 per cent) and more economically active - 69.8 per cent of non-UK EU immigrants compared to 63 per cent of UK-born citizens. This remains the case for both migrants from established EU member countries and those from accession countries, which have more recently joined the EU. In fact those from accession countries are even less likely to be unemployed than those from established EU member nations.
Is the government really in a position to say that it is in the public interest to hold back economic growth and worsen the position of the public finances?
The full report of the impact of EU labour on the UK can be found on the CEBR website.