Migrants give UK a £50bn boost

Nov 29 2006 by Brian Amble Print This Article

Professional and managerial migrants are boosting the UK economy to the tune of more than £50 billion a year, a sum that represents five per cent of the country's GDP.

Research by professional services firm, Harvey Nash, and the Centre for Economic and Business Research suggests that the UK is now dependent on overseas migrants to the tune of £54.3 billion - the figure attributed directly to them in terms of additional value added to the economy.

The benefits of inward migration extend not only to plugging skills gaps, but also by the value added by migrants spending their cash in the UK on consumer items Ė known as the "multiplier effect".

In addition, these migrants indirectly support around 200,000 other jobs by spending their wages in the UK, the report added.

"The sheer size of the contribution foreign skilled workers make to the UK economy in purely financial terms is quite unexpected," said Albert Ellis, Chief Executive of Harvey Nash.

"Economic migration has many detractors, but clearly what we are seeing here is unquestionably positive and beneficial to the UK as a whole. In fact, the UK could not do without its influx of economic migrants."

The report also reveals the true extent to which the health of the UK economy relies on high-quality professional workers from abroad and how this benefits London, in particular, in terms of increasing the pool of foreign talent upon which much of the financial services industry is based.

Albert Ellis argued that the skills and knowledge skilled migrants possess are crucial in driving growth and in innovation in some of the UK's most successful companies.

"In general, several sectors - the NHS for example - would cease to operate effectively without the help of migrant workers," he continued.

"The NHS takes many thousands of migrants as workers Ė over 30 per cent of NHS nursing roles are held by recent migrants to the UK. So the effect we are seeing is not a temporary blip - the UK is vastly dependent on its migrants to sustain its steady economic growth and will be for the foreseeable future".

The latest economic outlook from the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) said that the UK's open-door immigration policy was helping to keep inflation under control and boost growth.

Yet it also provided fuel for critics of unfettered immigration by suggesting that the unprecedented influx of foreign labour has pushed the UK's unemployment rate up from 4.8 per cent last year to 5.6 per cent in 2006 and is putting severe pressure on housing stocks.

"Exceptionally strong labour force growth - driven by high immigration and rising participation - is outstripping employment, growth, pushing the unemployment rate up," the OECD said.