Monday, 14 May 2007

BBC News 24 - Councils attack migration figures

Go to or read my copy below.

The number of migrants entering the UK has been underestimated, say local authority leaders who fear it will mean public services will be hit.
In a letter to the Treasury seen by the BBC, four leaders say a new method to calculate migrant numbers is flawed and shows "perverse results".
The Office for National Statistics figures determine funding for councils.
Immigration Minister Liam Byrne said the government would try to keep a "closer track" of the situation.
'Not representative'
The council leaders of Slough, Westminster, Kensington and Chelsea, and Hammersmith and Fulham say the "improved" method of calculating immigration, introduced last month, does not "remotely" represent the true picture on the ground.
The new figures suggest the London area is losing some 60,000 migrants to other parts of the country every month, they said
This loss of funding will put a considerable strain on our ability to provide the excellent services we pride ourselves on
Cllr Merrick Cockell,Leader of Kensington and Chelsea
The leaders have written a joint letter to Treasury Minister John Healey, urging him not to use this information to calculate council funding.
Cllr Stephen Greenhalgh of Hammersmith and Fulham said his Borough had seen a 550% increase in national insurance registrations by eastern European nationals.
Sir Simon Milton, leader of Westminster City Council, said he had "anecdotal evidence to suggest that over 2,000 migrants are coming through Victoria coach station on a weekly basis".
"We are so concerned about the use of these figures for vital council funding that we are lobbying the Treasury in addition to commissioning our own surveys," he said.
Richard Stokes, leader of Slough Borough Council, said poor migration statistics were already leading to severe underfunding.
"Estimates have failed to keep pace with what is happening on the ground and public services are suffering as a result," he said.
"The migrants that come to Slough are hard working and bring great benefit to the local economy but the council remains severely underfunded because of these poor statistics."
Merrick Cockell, leader of Kensington and Chelsea Council, said he believed his community would suffer as a result of what he called the flawed statistics.
"This loss of funding will put a considerable strain on our ability to provide the excellent services we pride ourselves on," he said.
'Wider impact'
Two thirds of local authorities across the country contacted by the BBC said they did not have faith in the official number of migrants in their area.
More than half said they would consider doing their own count to establish a more accurate picture.
Mr Byrne told BBC Breakfast that the system for calculating the number of migrants arriving in the UK had been put in place by the ONS, which is independent of government.
He said a new group would be meeting for the first time in June to help keep a "closer track" of the issue.
Mr Byrne added: "We have to accept that migration can have a wider impact on British public life.
"That is why we need much tougher checks on people abroad before they come here in the first place.
"But it also means that we need to be upfront about listening to local authorities and local parts of NHS about whether there are impacts, so we can take that into account when we are making the decision about who we let in and who we don't."
A Department for Communities and Local Government spokesman said: "Local government in England has received 10 successive years of above-inflation grant increases."
He added: "Allocations are based on official statistics produced by the ONS. These are the best available.
"We will take advice from the ONS in preparation of the 2008-2011 spending settlement. Nothing can change before then and we will consult widely and listen to competing views of different councils, as we always do."

1 comment:

Tony said...

The Prime Minister's Official Spokesman was asked about this funding issue on Monday. Apart from simply washing his hands of the affair, his reply threw up another bone of contention, that being the supposed financial benefits of migration.

You can read about it on the Waendel Journal