What happens if migrant workers go home?

WITH Huntingdonshire s prosperity owing so much to migrant workers in a tight employment market, what happens if they are attracted back home? The East of England Development Agency is so concerned that it has commissioned a study to assess the potential

WITH Huntingdonshire's prosperity owing so much to migrant workers in a tight employment market, what happens if they are attracted back home?

The East of England Development Agency is so concerned that it has commissioned a study to assess the potential economic risks of decreasing numbers of migrant workers.

For the first time it will offer a clear picture of how many migrants are working in the region and where they live. The study will also investigate issues that can facilitate or impede migration, as well as the potential risks to businesses, public services and the regional economy as a whole if migrant worker availability were to reduce significantly.

The Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR), the UK's largest independent think-tank and leading migration research centre, will conduct the study over the next six months and will report in the New Year.


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Mark Allison, migrant workers manager at EEDA, said: "Migration is an important and emotively-charged subject, and it's sometimes hard for people to see the extent to which it helps the economy. The message we get from businesses is unequivocal - that they could not survive without migrant workers. However, it is of vital importance that decisions surrounding migration policy, both regionally and nationally, are made with due consideration of hard evidence."

Previous IPPR research shows that the East of England has witnessed significant flows of migration in recent years. Some 12 per cent of A8 migrant workers (those coming from the eastern European states that joined the EU in 2004) registering on the Worker Registration Scheme (WRS) between May 2004 and December 2007 worked, at least initially, in the East of England. However, the same IPPR research also estimates that over half of those migrants that arrived in the UK since 2004 have already gone home.

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Dr Danny Sriskandarajah, IPPR director of research strategy, said: "It's important to understand that migration is not a one-way process. We know that the East of England has been a popular destination for migrants in recent years but this doesn't mean that migrants will continue to arrive in such large numbers. Migration often ebbs and flows.

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