A fair deal on migration for the UK
In this paper, IPPR brings together its ideas and research on migration from across the last five years to propose a comprehensive fair deal on migration for the UK - a set of policies and approaches that address all aspects of migration in a fair and realistic way, and which would make Britain's economy fairer and our society stronger.
Despite strenuous efforts by successive governments to reduce migration, there are no signs that we will see a return to the low levels of migration of the mid-1990s. Yet despite the failure of 'crude restrictionism' - that is, efforts to reduce migration by whatever means and at whatever cost - alternative responses to this dominant narrative have failed to win over mainstream public opinion. Therefore no space has been opened up space in which politicians can pursue more rational and coherent migration policies. The UK's migration debate is missing a credible mainstream progressive voice - one that speaks in authentically progressive terms, but also addresses mainstream concerns.
This report aims to fill that gap, and sets out a new, comprehensive progressive position on migration, which we call the 'Fair Deal'. It argues that the UK should be open and welcoming to migrants who make a clear contribution to our society, and should set no arbitrary limits on such migration. However, it also recommends that progressive arguments move away from focusing on the net economic benefits of migration, and recognise that the varied economic, social and cultural impacts of migration are such that many British people feel that it disadvantages them and harms their communities. This means that migration policy must be framed not simply to meet the demands of business and sectoral interests, but rather as part of a wider effort to create a fairer economy.
Through original research into public attitudes, this report demonstrates that the key to winning public support is the development of a set of policies which ensure that migrants who come to the UK are seen to work hard, contribute, play by the rules and 'fit in' to British society. It also lays out the Fair Deal as a series of proposals and position statements which, taken together, constitute a comprehensive manifesto on migration policy for the next decade - one in which migration policy plays a key part in efforts to build a fairer, stronger and more prosperous society.