Lens Blog

Psychological insight on current affairs


posted on 23rd August 2018

Immigration Statistics: Global Future reaction – ‘If the government had hit its net migration target today it would have cost the public finances £2.5bn this year alone’

Responding to today’s net immigration statistics, Peter Starkings, Director of the think tank Global Future, said:

“If the government had hit its net migration target today it would have cost the public finances £2.5bn this year alone – that would mean higher taxes or cuts to public services like our NHS.

The truth is immigrants keep this country going. 26% of our doctors and one in six of our carers come from overseas – both in sectors with debilitating staff shortages and no prospect of finding enough British workers to fill existing gaps, let alone provide the care and support currently given by migrant workers. Our report this week showed that ending free movement could spell disaster for our elderly and disabled loved ones.

The latest failure is further evidence that this self-defeating target has to go. This week Liam Fox joined a long list of senior government ministers including the Home and Foreign Secretaries in making clear he wants to drop the self-defeating target. It’s time for the Prime Minister to see sense, drop the soundbite and develop a migration policy that works for Britain and protects our public services.”

The new immigration statistics can be found here:

Peter Starkings is available for on air comment, please call 07740 347 362 to discuss.

Global Future’s latest report was published on Tuesday:
100,000 carers missing: How ending free movement could spell disaster for elderly and disabled people

The net fiscal impact of immigration

In March 2016 the OBR reviewed the fiscal impact of three migration scenarios – high, low and a central scenario.

Table 3 – OBR Forecast of fiscal aggregates under alternative net migration scenarios

Central Forecast
Net borrowing (£bn)72.255.538.821.4-10.4-11
Net debt (% GDP)83.782.681.379.977.274.7
High net migration
Net borrowing (£bn)72.254.736.918.4-14.8-16.9
Net debt (% GDP)83.782.58179.376.273.3
Low net migration
Net borrowing (£bn)72.256.340.624.5-6.1-5.2
Net debt (% GDP)83.78381.980.878.376.1


The OBR took the scenarios from the ONS, which estimated a disparity between the high and low scenario of 80,000 in the first year, and 160,000 for each subsequent year.


So, knowing the estimated fiscal impact – in the OBR’s Table 3, and the differential in net migration we can work backwards to devise a basic ‘ready reckoner’ – a ballpark fiscal impact for changes in net migration. After converting the calendar year figures used by the ONS, into the fiscal year used by the OBR, we see a relatively steady unit cost of approximately £150m for every reduction of 10,000.

Fiscal year difference in net migration
Cumulative difference in net migration
Fiscal Impact
Unit cost per 10,000