In an open letter to Cameron, more than 120 leading economists including former UN and World Bank officials say UK can do far more in the current refugee crisis. They describe the UK government’s response to the refugee crisis as seriously inadequate, morally unacceptable and economically wrong.
Prof Lawrence King, of Cambridge University, said: “Britain is the world’s fifth-richest economy. It is a travesty to suggest that the best Britain can do in the midst of the worst refugee crisis since the second world war is to take 4,000 refugees annually over five years, which amounts to 12 a day. Britain has actually accepted fewer refugees in the past two years than it accepted per year in the previous 16 years.”
The economists argue that the UK’s offer of 20,000 resettlement places to Syrians outside the EU is “too low, too slow and too narrow”. They noted that the UK in its recent history has “taken in far higher numbers of asylum seekers and refugees and at far greater speed and managed it well”.
They write: “Refugees should be taken in because they are morally and legally entitled to international protection, not because of the economic advantages they may bring. Nonetheless, it is important to note that the economic contribution of refugees and their descendants to the UK has been high.” They noted that the thousands of Ugandan Asian refugees, whose arrival in Britain in 1972 was greeted with initial anxiety, went on to make an “extraordinary contribution” to British life.
The economists called the UK’s refugee policy “misguided” as it tried to deter refugees from travelling to the EU by refusing to accept those who have fled to Europe. They said in the letter: “That misunderstands the intolerable ‘push’ factors that are forcing people out of countries of persecution and from neighbouring countries in which a humanitarian disaster is escalating in the camps. It is the parallel of the government’s earlier policy of trying to ‘deter’ travel by scaling down search and rescue in the Mediterranean – a failed policy which cost lives.”
From 1 February, landlords who let property in England will have to carry out checks to make sure potential tenants have the right to rent property in the UK. The scheme is part of the government’s drive to “create a hostile environment for illegal migrants.” Anyone who breaks the rules and is found to be letting a home to a tenant who is not allowed to stay can be fined up to £1,000 the first time, and £3,000 subsequently.
The Residential Landlords Association’s policy director Dr David Smith said: “The evidence shows that it is creating a more hostile environment for good landlords and legitimate tenants.”