2009: Economic impact on the London and UK economy of an earned regularisation of irregular migrants to the UK
[Extract]The costs in terms of public services are relatively low, mainly because access to most services does not depend on regularity per se, but on whether or not migrants are ‘subject to immigration control’. Thus the immediate impact on public services is much lower than many commentators might expect. The major long-term costs relate to welfare benefits, including child benefit, social security and housing benefit. Some countries limit migrants’ access to such benefits — and indeed this government intends to do so for legal migrants until they receive indefinite leave to remain or citizenship.
Making a regularisation scheme work effectively in social and economic terms would require careful design, involving a progressive programme (integrated with a version of the current ‘paths to citizenship’ proposal) and complementary policies to address equal opportunities issues and parts of the informal economy which have exploited irregular labour.
The issue of irregular migrants and how to deal with them has been difficult to research because official agencies have little information and few data about the question – and a lack of clarity about the position of irregular migrants, in part because immigration is a topic of controversy. However, the fact that immigration is ‘difficult’ politically does not mean there cannot be debate, followed by improvements to public policy. This report provides some evidence as a contribution to such a debate.