Council leaders in three councils have raised the issue of immigration. They warn it has resulted in their populations being much higher than the official figures show. This puts public services under "enormous strain" as the central Government grant is lower than it should be. Ministerial claims that immigration levels had peaked did not reflect the reality. Their complacency also disregards the increase in applications for work permits.
Significantly the three councils speaking out include Labour-run Slough – as well as Conservative-run Peterborough; and Boston which is run by Independents.
The Office for National Statistics says it is trying to provide better data and the census next year made provide greater accuracy. But Richard Harbord, the Chief Executive of Boston Council says the temporary status of many migrant workers makes the census unreliable. “Plus they are naturally very suspicious
of people turning up with official forms,” he adds.
Slough Council says it needs places for the equivalent of four primary schools. "There is massive concern," says their Chief Executive Ruth Bagley.
This problem has been going on for some time. The Labour Mayor of Newham has also attacked the Government over it.
The great advantages brought to the economy by immigrants from eastern Europe are widely accepted. The problem is that strain on services has not been recogniosed by the Government and falls unevenly on some councils – including my own.
A spokesman for the DCLG tells the FT:
“We know some local authorities have sometimes found it difficult to cope with sudden and unexpected inflows of migrants.”
….and done diddly squat about it.