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U.K. Government’s Migration Policy Damaging Economy, Report Says

Migration will benefit the U.K. and government policy toward non-European Union citizens is failing the economy, according to a survey by the Centre for Macroeconomics.

Eighty four percent of academics and economists agreed that migration will increase average U.K. incomes in the next decade, the CFM said in London today. Less than 10 percent disagreed. Asked about the Conservative-led coalition’s current migration policies, including those concerning students and skilled workers, 70 percent said they’re ineffective at maximizing economic benefits while minimizing possible negative impacts.

“Their policies are illiberal, short-sighted and damaging to the economy and society,” John Driffill, a professor of economics at London’s Birkbeck College, said in the report. They have “nothing to do with the gains to the economy, or effects on society, and have everything to do with staying in power.”

The scale of migration is likely to be an increasingly important issue in the buildup to the general election in 2015. With net migration rising to 212,000 people last year, the Tories are on track to miss their target of cutting it to below 100,000 a year by 2015.

While the government has said its migration curbs shouldn’t stop companies attracting skilled workers, the CFM noted a Migrant Advisory Committee report showing that the number of highly educated migrant workers decreased from 338,000 in 2007 to 242,000 in 2013.

Respondents to the survey highlighted the benefits of migration. Oxford University Professor Martin Ellison said it increases the overall number of jobs rather than taking them from native workers. Richard Portes of the London Business School said that properly regulated immigration can increase labor-market flexibility and alleviate specific skills shortages.

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