A comprehensive consultation into British attitudes towards on immigration and integration has found that 40% of people feel immigration has been negative for Britain.
The National Conversation on Immigration, conducted by British Futures and Hope Not Hate, also found that just 15% of people feel the government has managed immigration ‘competently and fairly.’
The consultation comprised three elements: focus groups in 60 towns and cities across the UK, an online survey on British Futures’ website (completed by 9,327 people over an 18-month period), and a survey of 3,667 UK adults undertaken in June 2018 by ICM.
Two in three feel migrants bring valuable skills to Britian
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65% of respondents felt migrants brought valuable skills to the economy and public services, such as the NHS, while 59% believe diversity from immigration has ‘enriched British culture’.
Also, 40% of respondents felt a wide variety of backgrounds and cultures has ‘undermined’ British culture, with 60% believing having a wide variety of backgrounds and cultures is part of British culture.
Other findings include that most people are ‘balancers’, who can see both the benefits of the skills that migrants bring, as well as having concerns about migration.
Just 13% trust politicians on immigration
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However, there is deep suspicion of politicians with just 13% trusting politicians to tell the truth on immigration, and many feeling that immigration had been exploited for political ends.
The report highlights, “Many participants felt that politicians had tried to shut down open debate about immigration or had used biased or inaccurate statistics when they had been forced to comment on immigration.
The request for greater transparency was a very common demand in almost all the citizens’ panels, along with a request not to use immigration for party political advantage.”
Political mistrust has been fuelled by Windrush, failure to deport foreign national prisoners and failure to meet migration targets.
“The lack of trust we found in the government to manage immigration is quite shocking,” said Jill Rutter, co-author of the report and the director of strategy for British Future. “People want to have their voices heard on the choices we make, and to hold their leaders to account on their promises.
“While people do want the UK government to have more control over who can come to the UK, most of them are ‘balancers’ – they recognise the benefits of migration to Britain, both economically and culturally, but also voice concerns about pressures on public services and housing.”