The Migration Matters Trust, a cross-party group of politicians, business leaders and trade unionists concluded that unemployment would rise from 1.6 million today to 3.1 million if net migration fell below 100,000. It has not stood at that level since the mid-1980s during the Thatcher Government.
According to the study, the employment rate for British citizens – the percentage wanting to work who have jobs – would drop from 75 per cent to 70 per cent, the lowest level for 20 years. The number of jobless people chasing each vacancy would rise from two today to seven.
Barbara Roche, chair of Migration Matters and a former Labour Immigration Minister, said: "According to the Government’s own figures, in industries like hospitality, which have a higher proportion of migrant workers, seven out of 10 employees are Brits. These are the workers who will suffer if migration is cut.” She added: “The case for immigration isn’t about abstract altruism but British self-interest. By plugging skills gaps in businesses, immigration safeguards the jobs of British workers in those firms.”
The Office for Budget Responsibility, the independent fiscal watchdog, estimated last November that a 80,000 drop in net migration would create a £6bn-a-year hole in the public finances by 2020-21.
The Centre for Economic and Business Research found that cutting migration to below 100,000 would reduce the size of the British economy by between 1.5 per cent and 3 per cent by 2025. It highlighted the need to plug skills gaps to ease bottlenecks as a key driver of whether the economy grows or stagnates.
Jonathan Portes, Professor of Economics and Public Policy at King’s College, London, has said there is strong evidence that arbitrary cuts in migration would make the UK less prosperous, and could reduce GDP per head by several percentage points by 2030.