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News Analysis - Illegal immigration in London


The Greater London Authority is campaigning to “regularise” the position of illegal immigrants. It held a meeting at City Hall on 16 June to promote this, backed by a report pithily entitled, “Economic impact on the London and UK economy of an earned regularisation of irregular migrants to the UK”.

The GLA estimates that Britain has a population of some 618,000 irregular residents, 70 per cent of them failed asylum seekers. Some 442,000 live in London – a number equivalent to the population of the boroughs of Camden and Harrow. It claims that regularising their status could add £3 billion a year to national GDP.

The GLA goes on to claim that they might then generate £846 million in extra tax revenue (if they left the black economy but kept their jobs). It estimates extra public services costs at £1 billion and the cost of the regularisation scheme at £300 million. Net cost – £454 million.

The £3 billion a year would, it claims, accrue almost entirely due to higher rates of employment (6 per cent) and increased earnings, which would rise – it says – by 25 per cent! All this – in a recession! Surely employers would more likely sack workers than raise their wages by 25 per cent.

The Spanish government has regularised immigrants – and Spain’s unemployment rate is now 25 per cent. Adding to the supply of registered labour would inevitably drive wages down, not increase them. And what happens when millions more would-be migrants are attracted to make “irregular’” (we used to say “illegal”) entry into Britain?

The missing costs

The report ignores the costs of providing the extra schools, health care and housing to meet the needs of the 618,000 extra people. (Earlier, it mentioned that meeting their housing needs might cost £6.2 billion, but more realistically – for once – conceded that it was more likely just to lengthen waiting lists. Its authors “forgot” to include this figure in the overall summary.) So the people would just continue to be crammed into the existing housing stock.

Similarly, the children already here are jammed into increasingly overcrowded schools and the ill into increasingly overcrowded hospitals. So the extra 618,000 extra people have meant more crowded houses, classrooms and hospitals.

This policy is driven by the employer (as Mayor Johnson’s support proves), backed by the Liberals, and opposed by workers.