December 13, 2016

Cheap migrant labour is drain on taxpayer

Cheap migrant labour is drain on taxpayer

John Redwood argues the problem with cheap labour carrying out tasks with insufficient training and investment is they put extra costs on the taxpayer. 

Some businesses claim they cannot operate unless they can invite in a large number of people from abroad to do jobs for low pay. This can be a dear option for the country as a whole. It also can get in the way of our general aims, to get real pay up, and to get more people into work who are already legally settled here.

When I have been involved with businesses I have usually found it best to pay people well and to give them any training and assistance they need to work smarter. Good executives and directors work to help the company strive for higher quality, better productivity and higher levels of customer satisfaction. That way the company can grow its revenues and afford to pay employees decent pay. A good company values its brand as a good employer as well as its brand as a good supplier. Letting people work smarter means you can achieve what you need to do with without having to recruit so many extra people as you grow. It means you can employ on better pay levels, with all sharing the benefits of higher productivity. Working smarter means putting the right machine and computer power behind the team of people working in the business, seeking to make their jobs both easier and more satisfying whilst increasing output and raising quality. Getting things right first time, proofing systems against error and accident wherever possible, and striving for continuous improvement are well known in modern industry and can be adapted to modern services.

Some say areas like fruit picking will always need plenty of cheap labour to ensure sensibly priced fruit in our shops. Technology is now well advanced with vacuum pickers and other methods to allow machines to pick fruit. There are also better techniques for growing and shaping trees, fruit bushes and strawberry plants to make picking much easier or to allow machine picking. Agriculture has mechanised corn and wheat production and will not set about mechanising fruit and market gardening activity more.

The problem with more cheap labour carrying out tasks with insufficient training and investment to back up the staff is it also places many extra costs on taxpayers. Every time we invite in additional people to take low paid jobs we place an aggregate larger burden on the taxpayers. The studies which show new low paid migrants adding to national income ignore the need to provide GP surgeries, hospital capacity, school places for children, extra social housing or rent subsidy, more road space and train capacity. We want those we welcome here to live to decent standards, so we need to make substantial investments in extra public service provision. If we invite in a reasonable number each year some can be absorbed without building whole new schools, hospitals surgeries and roads. If we carry on inviting in 335,000 additional people every year the investment we need to make in public capital is great. Each new arrival who needs a school place for a child will need around £5000 a year for the running costs of the school place anyway, but if you need to build a new school then the extra capital cost is on top and substantial, at around £20,000.

5.00 avg. rating (99% score) - 18 votes
John Redwood MP
John Redwood MP
John Redwood is the Member of Parliament for Wokingham in Berkshire. He was formerly Secretary of State for Wales in Prime Minister John Major's Cabinet. He is currently Co-Chairman of the Conservative Party's Policy Review Group on Economic Competitiveness.
  • Terry Howard

    What a fantastic tribute to British ingenuity that we can reach these conclusions to a complex economic question with rudimentary analysis and with very little data. Other commenters have done us proud, but Mr Redwood especially is to be commended as he jumps from annual revenue cost to capital cost without pausing to point out the difference. A simpering sycophant without much of a brain might just assume that £20,000 is the annual cost of providing school places for every single migrant, because Mr. Redwood always talks such good sense – indeed we can let him do the thinking for us.

    Is he paid a fee to produce this tripe? A Romanian fruit-picker (one of those chaps here for the summer as a seasonal worker but with 3 kids in school in the UK, a wife in an NHS hospital bed and parents in front of me in the bus queue) could do a better job.

    The biggest drain on the tax-payers of this country is people in government like Mr. Redwood’s party (and those who preceded them in the Con/Lib and Labour governments), pontificating about what is best for us, what costs us money and what brings us prosperity without providing us with some robust analysis to justify this pontification. Migration is a glaring example. It is both bad and good, depending when and to whom one listens. The fact is, none of them have a clue. Given the social unrest stirred up by UKIPPers and those on the even more fascist extreme right, this should have been analysed exhaustively a long time ago,

  • Gordon Stewart

    what a blathering arsehole Redwood is,far from sounding like a tory, Hes frankly admitting just how far down the socialist road the tories are,the cure for all these “burdens” that the poor taxpayer is lumbered with could be done with if the trains were run by train companies,Insurance would cover health care, and can someone explain why we could possibly trust the state to educate our children when they themselves send theirs to Eton/ Harrow? You coudnt trust them to lie straight in bed Vote Nigel Farage

  • ratcatcher11

    Importing low skilled labour is of no benefit to the UK, make employers pay all the living costs of these people ie their housing, medical costs, education and no child support. Employers will soon stop importing these people who will not want to come here anyway, without these benefits.

  • ratcatcher11

    France is three times bigger than the UK with a smaller population yet they say they are unable to take immigrants. Who is kidding who?

  • Thomas Katz

    + they are filling our prisons al la Rotherham

  • SeeYouAnon

    Bravo – well said.

    There is no evidence anywhere that we as a country are becoming wealthier, or that our quality of life is improving. The experience where I live is that both are in reverse. The increased population is observable, as are the results.

    I’m afraid a government spreadsheet is worthless in the face of this. The treasury, clearly, has no extra money.

    I do not object to anyone moving overseas to improve their lives. When it places costs upon others, it becomes pointless and unfair to all.

  • Muttley

    I suspect the Ponzi population model was really a left wing construct to make mass immigration acceptable. That bubble has now well and truly burst, and we should stop talking about immigration as an umitigatedly good thing. In fact, less densely populated, more homogenous societies are happier and better off.

  • Muttley


  • Landphil

    No survey required – just refer them to your last paragraph.

  • springmellon

    The Government should immediately commission an independent, rigorous and comprehensive study of the net benefits and costs of immigration.

    The studies so far are patchy and shallow. So many of the costs of immigration are ignored, that the famous figure of an alleged £20 billion net gain from immigration would quickly be wiped out and dive into the negative once these costs are taken in to account.

    Common sense says that there must be a net loss from mass immigration of low paid workers paying little or no taxes, but using massively expensive public services and claiming from the welfare state.

  • Mr TaxPayer

    JR makes the point that many pro-immigration arguments fail to. Namely they may pay more in taxes than they claim in benefits, but their contribution does match their requirements.

  • Bogbrush

    Agree 100%; this is similar to ultra-low interest rates, in that it allows less advanced business to hang around.

    Being in charge of a £70m manufacturing business myself, I am generally in favour of pressures that allow differentiation on the basis of the more investment minded, higher standard business; tougher quality standards, higher interest rates, higher wage costs. All these things reward those business with brains and drive over the lazier operations whose main aim is to hang around using low skilled people.

    I am constantly bemused by the idea pushed by all and sundry that a developing, advancing society needs an increasing population. We should be driving productivity to produce more stuff at lower costs to be shared between ourselves. That’s what getting richer actually means.

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