- A Warm Welcome?
- Public Services and Managing Migration in London: Scoping Research and Introductory Report
- Bell, Michael, Ford, Ian and McDougall, Duncan
- Michael Bell Associates
- Mar 2008
The report was commissioned by the London Asylum Seekers Consortium as a scoping exercise to explore the management of public services and migrants in London. It seeks to identify key issues and provide initial recommendations as to the way forward in managing public services in high-migrant areas.
Views and information were sought from a sample of one third of London Boroughs on questions related to impact on Local Authority service areas, pressures on housing, employment and poverty, illegal migrants, community cohesion and host community needs and support for children young people.
Migrants from the European Union Accession States (A8) slightly outnumber those from the established EU, but are fewer than either British or New Commonwealth citizens. The level of migration from the A8 seems to have stabilised. The impacts of migration felt by all authorities in the UK are magnified for almost all London Boroughs, to an extreme extent in some cases, especially central London boroughs. The report identifies key issues on five broad service areas: housing, health and social care, children and young people, social cohesion and employment. A key finding on housing is that, while the private sector has been the main supplier of accommodation to new migrants, respondents felt that the acquisition of full EU citizenship by many Eastern European migrants is likely to increase the demand for statutory housing services. In regards to health, maternity services have come under increasing stain due to rapid and unanticipated increases in the fertility rate seen to be in part driven by migration. Community organisations report that access to heath and mental services are inadequate for many refugees who have suffered trauma. In schools, a continually changing population with different linguistic and cultural needs and frequent mid-term arrivals and departures mean needs change even before the response to that need can be put in place. Cost of providing social care for unaccompanied minors can be very high, with Hillingdon in particular facing almost three times the cost of any other authority in supporting young asylum seekers leaving care. New migrants tend to be employed in low paid sectors, especially cleaning, retail and social care. Eastern Europeans are heavily employed in the construction sector. Employment is rarely secure and highly skilled professionals are underemployed. Concern was expressed about the exploitation of migrants although this is hard to assess in London due to the high prevalence of small employers.
The information gathered presents a complex and rapidly changing picture, mainly due to the transience of migration. This rapid movement of populations threatens the validity of statistics and presents particular problems for commissioners and providers of services. While relatively few of the boroughs contacted had detailed, good quality information, some had data collected by individual council departments for other purposes which may be of use in understanding the needs of new migrants and their impact on public services. While some authorities expressed concerns at this impact, in most cases they feel existing structures and services are appropriate. However, the majority feel that much better information and improved planning is needed to ensure appropriateness of and access to these services. There is also concern that in some areas Boroughs that respond too quickly to the needs of new migrant communities may risk impairing services for longer standing communities which are still receiving large numbers of new migrants. While the perception is that London's inward migration is dominated by Eastern Europeans, in fact it is the New Commonwealth which remains the largest single source of migrants.
Improved communication between local authority service providers and voluntary and community sector providers; train staff on migrants' background, language and culture; plan services across areas by common issue rather than within Borough boundaries; establishment of a ‘service innovation' forum for staff from London Boroughs and other new arrival migrant areas; local and national information guides for new migrants; factual information about migration for established communities; work with both Central Government and the Mayor of London to improve data collection and access to that data.
- Resource Type
- Research report
- Commissioned By
- London Asylum Seekers Consortium
- Funded By
- London Asylum Seekers Consortium