Government announces £70m fund to support communities with migration

Published 19 March 2009

Communities Secretary Hazel Blears and Home Secretary Jacqui Smith today announced details of a new multi million pound fund to support communities in managing local pressures from migration.

The long term benefit to the UK economy from migration is significant and will be vital to ensuring the UK's economic recovery.

Nonetheless the Government recognises that migration can place short term pressures on local public services including councils, schools, NHS and the police.

Today's announcement - £70m over the next two years - is about ensuring that those pressures are managed effectively for the benefit of the whole community.

Economic migrants and students coming to the UK from outside the EU will be charged a levy in addition to their normal visa application fee. The revenue will form the Migrants Impact Fund. The Fund will mean that migrants are being asked to pay an additional contribution to that which they already make through taxes, to support the communities in which they live.

All regions of England will receive a proportion of the funding. The amount each receives will be weighted towards the areas where international migration has had the greatest short-term impact.

Funding will be allocated to local projects from Government Offices working closely with local partners. It will be targeted at projects which have identified innovative solutions to migration related pressures - where possible involving and benefiting a number of local services. It is not intended to replace mainstream service provision, which already has improved mechanisms for reflecting changes in population.

Projects considered for funding must be able to demonstrate that they bring benefits to the settled as well as the migrant community in an area. For example additional English language provision for migrants will mean reducing the cost to public services from translation and interpretation. Projects might also include taking action against rogue landlords, extra teachers in school with high migrant populations, measures to increase GP registration, or targeted support for policing.

Hazel Blears said:

"Migration brings significant benefits for this country. But it is a complex area never far from heated public debate. That is why we need an honest discussion about it, that acknowledges the local pressures which migration can create in our communities and on our public services.

"It is crucial that we manage migration in an active way and the measures that we are taking across Government are helping to do this.

"The new Migration Impacts Fund, that comes from an extra levy on new migrants as they enter our country, will support local services like health, police, and schools to manage any pressures. It will also help ensure that those who arrive here learn to speak English so they can work to support themselves, get to know their neighbours and participate fully in our society.

"We have a shared responsibility to work together, live together and get along together, whether born in Britain or coming from abroad. I want Britain to be a place where decency, hard work, and respect for the law and for each other are values we all sign up to as citizens. We all have a responsibility to make that happen."

Alongside the new funding Ms Blears and Ms Smith also set out a range of significant and practical actions the Government is taking to maximise the benefits of migration and manage its impact with measures tailored to meet current economic challenges.

These measures are brought together in Managing the Impacts of Migration: Improvements and Innovations. This is an update on the actions Government is taking to crack down on illegal migration (including introducing a single border force) introducing a points-based system to ensure we get migrants with the skills and talents Britain needs, getting tougher with those who outstay their welcome and with those who don't play the by the rules. It also sets out how measures are being taken against those who seek to exploit migrants and continues Government's focus on integration and on ensuring people from different backgrounds get along together.

Home Secretary Jacqui Smith said:

"We are determined to ensure migration works for everyone. Our tough new points system means only those we need - and no more - can come here and its flexibility allows us to raise or lower the bar according to the needs of the labour market and the country as a whole.

"Last month we announced a tightening of the points based system for foreign workers. We've raised the bar to entry for highly skilled migrants and said that employers must have advertised skilled jobs for two weeks in a Jobcentre Plus before they can offer it to a foreign worker. These two changes will mean that only those who make the biggest economic contribution or are filling jobs that people here do not want can come here.

"On top of this, we are now confirming a cash boost - worth £70 million over two years - to help deal with the impacts of migration on a local level. This money will be made available - quickly and directly - to all local services across the country, including police, schools and hospitals."

Current and future government actions include:

Understanding migration impacts

  • plans to consult on a new Migration Impacts Committee that will provide an independent source of advice and analysis on the local impacts of migration; 

Promoting integration

  • proposals to increase English language teaching to help migrants get on in work and integrate in their communities. This will be rolled out next September; 
  • specialist cohesion teams were provided for Breckland and Barnsley - two local councils experiencing cohesion challenges following rapid change. The evaluation reports will be published shortly; and
  • the Refugee Integration and Employment service has been up and running since October providing practical help to anyone over 18 who has been granted refugee status with a focus on getting them into work. A new strategy on refugee integration will be published shortly.

Supporting local services

  • grants have been awarded in 2008 - 09 to City of London, Barking and Dagenham, Peterborough and Blackburn with Darwen for schools experiencing a rapid growth in pupil numbers because of migration;
  • the vast majority of migrants find accommodation and work. However a small number become homeless. As part of the Government's rough sleeping strategy we have provided extra funding to support four London boroughs to help tackle rough sleeping by Eastern European nationals, and we are also providing funding to help them return to their home countries - for example 600 homeless migrants from the City of Westminster have been given help to return home;
  • the private sector continues to house the vast majority of new migrants. The Government is currently considering changes to crackdown on rogue landlords who exploit vulnerable migrants and undermine community cohesion;
  • following the success of local crime immigration teams in London, East Midlands and North East, these are to be expanded across the country by December 2011. The teams focus on tackling immigration crime, and taking enforcement action against illegal working. During 2008/09 the teams have instigated more than 2,300 prosecutions; and
  • stepping up action to remove EU criminals by reducing the deportation threshold for those EU nationals who have committed drugs, violent or sexual offences in the UK from 24 months imprisonment to 12 months imprisonment which is in line with our approach to migrants from outside the EU.

Protecting workers

  • the Government is determined to stop unscrupulous employers exploiting migrant workers, abusing their rights and undercutting resident workers;
  • a Government-led campaign is helping to raise awareness of basic employment rights and encourage reporting of workplace abuses - a new dedicated helpline will be set up which vulnerable workers will be able to report abuses and advice about rights;
  • the Gangmasters Licensing Authority (GLA) continues to take action against employers exploiting workers in agriculture, horticulture, shellfish gathering and packaging industries. More than 1,200 gangmasters are now licensed to operate legally and so far GLA investigations has led to revocation of 85 licences. Discussions are currently underway with major supermarkets and an agreement aimed at helping the workers affected by exploitation and setting out best practice will be formally signed shortly.

Improving population data

  • new research has been undertaken into the economic downturn on migration flows. Preliminary findings show that migration flows to the UK have reached their peak and are likely to slow further during the economic downturn;
  • in February the Office of National Statistics announced a package of improvements to population and migration statistics they expect to be implemented by May 2010. This includes technical improvements to produce better local statistics on migrations; and
  • introduction of a flexible points based system to ensure non-EEA migrants have the skills we need. With the further changes announced February 2009 we expect to see a fall in the number of migrants coming here.

Notes to editors

1. The funding is £35m in the first year and subject to a review in the autumn of the migrant fees being received, a similar amount in 2010/11.

2. The regional allocations are:

 Total fund size for UK  £35,000,000
 Fund for England after Barnett  £29,322,000
 North East  £1,389,863
 North West  £3,606,606
 Yorkshire & The Humber  £2,929,268
 East Midlands  £3,034,827
 West Midlands  £2,873,556
 East  £3,568,487
 London  £5,653,282
 South East  £3,269,403
 South West  £2,996,708

3. A copy of the document is available on the Communities website:


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