LONDON (Reuters) - An influx of immigrants to Britain in the last decade has left parts of the country struggling to cope with the extra pressure on public services, a panel of government advisers said on Tuesday.
Immigration has joined the economy at the top of voter concerns ahead of a 2015 national election, fuelling the rise of the anti-European Union UK Independence Party and increasing pressure on Prime Minister David Cameron to get tougher on the issue.
Cameron has pledged to cut net migration to below 100,000 a year, but the figure has actually continued to rise. He has also unveiled steps to limit EU migrants’ access to welfare benefits.
The Independent Migration Advisory Committee, made up of economists and migration experts, said immigrants in low-skilled jobs were concentrated in a relatively small number of areas which now needed more help to cope.
“The arrival of one million migrants in low-skilled jobs during the last 10 years has left local authorities struggling to cope with rapid population change,” a spokesman for the committee said.
The non-UK born population of England and Wales grew by 2.9 million between 2001 and 2011, the report said, with 75 percent of this rise taking place in just a quarter of local authorities.
The report found that while nationally the economic impact of immigration was modest, the affect on these individual areas, including cities such as Peterborough, Southampton, and parts of London, was much stronger.
“This includes pressure on education and health services and on the housing market and potential problems around cohesion, integration and wellbeing,” the committee’s chairman, David Metcalf, said.
Reporting by Kylie MacLellan; Editing by Robin Pomeroy