Posted by: secretperson | November 27, 2007

UK population to double. What about England?

Could the UK population almost double to 108 million by 2081 according to the Office for Natural Statistics. And although the report doesn’t specify, no doubt most of this pressure will fall on England, especially the South-East. If the UK’s population will almost double, England’s will almost certainly more than double.

At least the Government seems to realise this many people would be a problem. Rather than platitudes on the many benefits of immigration, they will probably offer an ineffective solution. The Tories are offering a limit on non-EU numbers. Labour offer an Australian style points system presumably also on immigrants from non-EU states.Because the one thing neither major party seems to want to admit, is that it is EU rules that are the problem.

One of the major fundamental freedoms of the EU is freedom of movement. That means, apart from some temporary measures for new members, we cannot limit EU immigration. As we have seen with the number of Poles to arrive, there are plenty in Eastern Europe who want to come here and plenty of employers who want to employ them. This needn’t be a problem now, but when you look at the numbers projected, it is not clear how we will support this many people without a reduction in quality of life.

Schools and hospitals are already reporting strains. For a start the government surveys on numbers seem to be vastly inaccurate, Slough is one example. As most local government funding comes from central government, if they don’t know what the local areas need they won’t get the right amount of money. This is a strong argument for more localism, with money raised and spent locally (not regionally!). If immigration brings the economic benefits they claim (I never trust a government statistic though so this is dubious) this should fund any local needs.

And where will these people live. We are already short of homes with 3 million more due to be built. New developments will have to be on green belt, and increasingly that will mean farmland, not just open fields. This in turn means more reliance on foreign food supplies, hardly a secure position to want to be in. Not to mention the benefits to quality of life that result from the countryside and inner city green areas that might be lost.

It is said that immigrants do the jobs Britons won’t do. This is no reason for unlimited immigration, but for targetted immigration, short term visas for seasonal work etc. There should also be more incentive to get people off benefits, it’s no good saying the immigrants do jobs we won’t do, why won’t we do them when the jobless total is massive? Raising the minimum wage and cutting benefits for the long term unemployed would help. It shouldn’t be financially beneficial not to work.

As far as skilled work goes, fair enough, but targetted to the skills we need, not as a reason for unlimited immigration. But this must not be an excuse not to educate and train Britons, ‘it’s ok we can get skilled immigrants’ is not a long term solution. It’d lead to unemployment and the reluctance of other countries to invest in training, just for skilled workers to move abroad. Importing doctors harms the poor countries who need them most.

Social aspects need to be accounted for too. People are unhappy at mass immigration, telling them immigration is good for them is not enough. People want to feel a connection to where they live. Disparate communties lacking a common language do not get on and aren’t happy places. Studies have shown decreases in volunteering, community spirit and sense of belonging in multicultural societies. Immigrants can feel at home and adjust, but that is easier when they come in small numbers. It is otherwise easy to stick to your own and not adapt, but it does noone favours in the long term. Limited immigration and a strong national identity people can rally too will increase ‘community cohesion’ (what a horrible phrase!)

The moral of the story is, for me, that we must pull out of the EU to regain control of our borders. Immigration must be based on facts and needs, and must not be an excuse to neglect the education or continued unemployment of our own population. Mass population growth is not inevitable, and now is the time to act.

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