Today the Labour Government has announced that economic migrants will have to pay a £50 visa levy towards the costs of the public services they will consume. Some of the £70 million it is hoped to raise is intended to go to assist local councils with the extra demands on their services prompted by the extra people.
My own borough of Hammersmith and Fulham is among those to have complained that the Government grant, based on out of date population figures, fails to take account of new arrivals – although in our case they are mostly Poles and others from within the EU. Very welcome they are too. But, of course, more people means more pressure on refuse collection, libraries, parks, street cleaning and schools and so on. This new charge applies to those from outside the EU.
"For a long time councils have been asking for recognition of the pressures put on local services by uncontrolled immigration, for them this announcement may well be too little too late. Rather than tackling the real pressures on local services I fear this announcement is designed to get a headline.
"Instead of releasing initiative after initiative the Government should focus on dealing with the pressures of immigration by doing what the Conservatives have advocated, setting an annual limit on immigration which would take into account discussions with public services and communities”.