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Commons Library Briefing: A new 'Controlling Migration Fund' for the UK?

Published Monday, August 1, 2016

There is renewed interest in establishing a dedicated funding stream to assist local authorities and public service providers manage the impacts of immigration. A Conservative Party manifesto commitment to do this has Labour's support.

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Impacts of immigration on public services

Over the past decade or so there has been frequent discussion about the differential impacts of immigration across the UK, and whether public service providers receive adequate and timely resources to enable them to respond.

There is an absence of systematic data on the impact of immigration on public services, and there are difficulties in obtaining up-to-date information about the spread of migrant populations across the UK. These issues are considered further in a separate Library briefing, Impacts of immigration on population and the economy.

Nevertheless, successive governments have taken some action in response to concerns. Towards the end of Labour’s last term in office, it introduced a funding stream for projects dealing with the transitional pressures of immigration at local level (the ‘Migration Impacts Fund’). The Coalition Government abolished the fund. It later introduced a new requirement for non-EU temporary migrants to pay an upfront contribution to the NHS.

Recent calls for a new migration fund

There is renewed interest in establishing a dedicated funding stream to assist local authorities and public service providers manage the impacts of immigration.

The Conservative Party’s 2015 General Election manifesto included a commitment to introduce a new ‘Controlling Migration Fund’, and the Labour Party has indicated its support for such a measure, which it believes should be introduced as a matter of urgency.

Suggestions made by think-tanks and other experts over the past couple of years include financing a new Fund through a compulsory levy on immigration and citizenship applications, and/or through the taxation system. Some have suggested that a new fund needs to have a significantly larger budget than its predecessor. There have also been calls for a new funding stream at EU level to mitigate the effects of EU immigration flows.

The Labour Government’s Migration Impacts Fund

The Migration Impacts Fund was launched in 2009 to assist public service providers deal with transitional pressures of immigration. Money from the Fund was allocated to local projects which sought to address the impact of immigration and bring benefits to the settled community as well as migrants.

Projects in receipt of funding cut across a wide range of areas, including education, employment, health, environmental health, translation services, housing, ESOL provision and policing.

The Fund was financed by imposing a compulsory £50 levy on immigration application fees. £35 million was available in each of the financial years 2009-10 and 2010-11.

The Coalition Government closed the Fund in October 2010 as a cost-saving measure. It also had concerns that it was ineffective.

Commons Briefing papers CBP-7673

Author: Melanie Gower

Topic: Immigration

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