Headlines: June 12th, 2008

The Government is to take steps to improve the way it measures the impact of migration on local populations. It is one of a series of measures set out by the Communities Secretary Hazel Blears to maximise the benefits and minimise the negative impacts of migration.

Local authorities have pressed for some time for more accurate figures and Ms Blears said the Government would support the Office for National Statistics, which was working with Local Government, to ensure most accurate, up to date data was available to capture local population change. The new figures would then be used to inform the three-year funding settlement for Local Government in 2011. The measures will see twelve million pounds spent on improvements to the way migration data are collected.

Ms Blears also announced the creation of a fund to help all local services manage the transitional impacts of migration. She said the difference that migration made to local places and people varied from town to town. “Some communities can readily see the benefits, some people have concerns about pressures on public services and pressure on the labour market,” she said, adding “In other places it is the rate and scale of change which is the cause for concern, whilst for others the real challenges will arise if net migration reduces.”

She added that the debate was too often polarised around stark headlines so that one group called for closed borders at any cost, while another refused to acknowledge that migration created any challenges. “Successful migration policy achieves a balance between the two,” she added.

Other measures set out by the Secretary of State include strengthening Britain’s borders, protecting workers and promoting integration. On the latter she said the community cohesion strategy had been modified to focus on mapping local issues to devise local solutions and moving away from a one size fits all approach.