Professor Thom Brooks, in Durham Law School, called for the return of the Migration Impacts Fund launched in 2009, which was discontinued by the Coalition Government after the 2010 general election.
Last year immigration rose to 298,000. The Office for National Statistics linked its rise to increasing migration from within the EU (43,000) and non-EU (49,000).
Professor Brooks, who is a Professor of Law and Government as well as a Labour Party member, said: “The Migration Impacts Fund helped support about £70m over two years by introducing a levy on immigration applications. It was neither funded by taxpayers or the European Union and it provided an invaluable source of new funding to reduce migration-related pressures on local services, covering a range of programmes including English language training, extra support teachers and improving emergency services.
“The Coalition Government stopped support for the fund because it found it ‘ineffective’ (1), but did not replace it with an alternative. The extra income generated was diverted to other Government spending programmes.
“The problem is that the Government is now forced to find money elsewhere for a programme that should have never been scrapped.”
In his research briefing, Professor Brooks claims an extra £11.7m could be created by a new £25 levy on immigration applications that could be used to support efforts to reduce migration-related impact.
Professor Brooks added: “The Government’s poor management of asylum applications led to cities like Middlesbrough receiving almost 50 per cent more asylum seekers than recommended in guidelines (2).
“This forced the Government to provide new funding to reduce unnecessary strain on local public services. The problem can be avoided by relaunching a fund that should have never been scrapped.
“A small levy on application fees could raise new funding to provide urgent support without increasing costs for hard working taxpayers and improving public services for all.”
The funding raised can then go to where it is needed most. The Government’s new migration ‘health surcharge’ starting on Monday does not. Brooks says: “Applicants pay a fee upfront, but the funds raised do not follow them if they move within the UK and directed to health care alone. The Migration Impacts Reduction Fund would more effectively target services and better track need.” The Government has chosen to launch the surcharge after Parliament dissolved, but before the general election in what Brooks describes as pure electioneering.
(1) The Guardian, “Fund to ease impact of immigration scrapped by stealth”, 6 August 2010: http://www.theguardian.com/uk/2010/aug/06/fund-impact-immigration-scrapped
(2) Daily Mirror, “Middlesbrough revealed as England's asylum seeker capital, with 982 making the town their home”, 8 October 2014: http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/middlesbrough-revealed-englands-asylum-seeker-4403722 & Evening Gazette, “Middlesbrough has largest proportion of asylum seekers of anywhere in England”, 8 October 2014: http://www.gazettelive.co.uk/news/teesside-news/middlesbrough-largest-proportion-asylum-seekers-7899474