Today saw the release of the ‘Migrants in low skilled work’ report from the Migration Advisory Committee some of the most relevant issues & observations to the Oldham population will be highlighted in bold: “Migrants in low-skilled jobs are concentrated in certain parts of the country. This means some areas are likely to experience possibly significant impacts, while other areas may experience very little or almost no impact at all” Clearly the continuing migrant and asylum seeker allocation in Oldham affects service provision, resource allocation, employment availability & culture at every level, Oldham has experienced unprecedented population expansion especially in the youth population yet has 10,709 less workplace based jobs than in 2004. Three-quarters of the total increase in migrant numbers 2001-2011 occurred in just a quarter of all local authority areas of England & Wales. The report found that national studies on immigration dilute the true local outcomes “Because of migrant concentration by area, it is likely that the (possibly considerable) impacts at the local level become lost in the national average” “EU-born migrants are predominantly seeking work, while most non-EU migrants cite family reasons as their main reason for migrating to the UK. In the absence of a specific route for low-skilled migration from outside of the EU, this may indicate some system abuse (e.g. students coming to the UK to work)” For the last five years non-EU student inflow numbers have been steady at around 155,000 so outflow numbers should be broadly the same as people return home after completing a degree yet the number returning home last year was 50,000, just a third of the number that should have returned home. Oldham is expanding it’s higher education offering and institutions such as Oldham College have a license to issue tier 2 student visas directly thus creating yet another avenue by which immigrant numbers can increase in Oldham.
One observation for the Conservatives & Liberals at the council along with Labour is the misrepresentation of current record employment levels which I have to admit I missed but is glaringly obvious “However, much of this increase in employment is a consequence of the increase in working-age population such that the employment rate (employment divided by working-age population) has not increased but cycled without showing an upward trend between approximately 68 and 76 per cent for this entire time period (1971 to present). The employment rate in the three months to January 2014 was 72.3 per cent”
Construction jobs around the town centre building schemes, Metrolink & PFI housing in Oldham has been lauded as a land of employment & apprentice opportunity by the Oldham Labour Council with further opportunities available in the hospitality sector after Hotel Future & the Old Town Hall schemes have been completed. Yet the report identifies how construction & hospitality fall outside the Gangmasters Licensing Authority & are open to abuse with the increase in temporary, casual & agency employment. “based on what we have seen and been told, we are concerned that the interaction of a flexible labour market with relatively unregulated labour providers (especially in the sectors such as construction, hospitality and care not covered by the GLA) is contributing to reduced compliance” The Oldham Care Homes Association recently accused Oldham Council of refusing to pay the real costs associated with care in independent care homes.
To conclude the report stated mass immigration of low skilled workers DOES impact local social housing, NHS services, schools and other public sector services yet does not add any beneficial increase at all in per capita GDP contributions. Local authorities such as Oldham Council know this which is why the report authors met a wall of local authority silence. “At local authority level our objective was to gain a much better understanding of the dynamics of recent immigration and how issues related to employment, housing and social cohesion are inter-linked, especially in those areas experiencing rapid increases in EU and non-EU migrant populations. But some local areas that would have served as ideal case studies were clearly unwilling to engage with us” no surprise as to the unwillingness of local authorities to participate because most people would be truly shocked at the information contained within closely guarded statistics, costs & facts regarding the impact of mass immigration in areas with high migrant numbers.