Britons support skilled immigration, survey shows

A majority of Britons welcome the skills foreign workers bring to the country, according to a survey published today – 24 hours before recommendations for a new immigration system are due to be published by government advisers.

Britons support skilled immigration, survey shows
A new survey, the 'National Conversation on Immigration', which was based on consultations with almost 20,000 people and an online poll by ICM research, paints a rather different public attitude towards immigration than the outright hostility reflected in some sections of the British media.

Skilled immigrants benefit UK economy

Some two-thirds of Britons (65 per cent) considered immigrants brought skills into the country to the benefit of the UK economy and public services, while 59 per cent believed diversity was a good thing for the national culture.Additionally, 61 per cent of respondents believed it was preferable for migrants to remain in the country and to integrate into society, rather than coming to work for a few years and then returning to their country of origin.However, the research – conducted by the British Future think-tank and anti-racism charity Hope not Hate – showed remaining concerns about the effectiveness and fairness of the current immigration system and fears about the effect large-scale immigration can have on local public services.

Keeping the immigration dialogue open

Rosie Carter, the report's co-author, said, "Immigration is a national issue, but people see it through a local lens. Where people live, and their living conditions, makes a real difference – that includes the perceived impact of migration on their community, broader grievances about economic insecurity and levels of contact with migrants and ethnic minorities too.“An official National Conversation on Immigration would give people a chance to express their concerns in a constructive debate, so anxieties are not driven underground or exploited by those seeking to stoke division.”The proposal for a 'national conservation' on immigration was among 40 recommendations in the report. Other proposals included greater resources for the Home Office to effectively administer a new immigration system; a mandatory registration system for arrivals; and a new criminal vetting system for all migrants.

Public confidence lacking

The survey also found very little public confidence in the way immigration is currently administered, with only 15 per cent believing the government has managed the system competently. Only 17 per cent trusted the government to tell the truth about the reality of immigration, while only 13 per cent trusted MPs to tell the truth on the issue.Tomorrow (18 September), the government's Migration Advisory Committee will publish its recommendations for a post-Brexit immigration system, which is expected to form the backbone of government proposals due to be published in the New Year.A Home Office spokesman said, “We are committed to bringing net migration down to sustainable levels. There is no consent in Britain for uncontrolled immigration.“After we leave the EU we will end free movement, take back control of our borders and put in place an immigration system which works in the best interests of the UK.“We are considering a range of options that will ensure we are in control of our borders and managing migration, while continuing to attract and retain people who come here to work and bring significant benefits.”For related news and features, visit our Brexit section
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