CDPB report shows NI benefits from immigration

Northern Ireland is benefiting from immigration.  A major new study published today has revealed the substantial economic and social benefits that newcomers bring to our society.

Commissioned by the Centre for Democracy and Peace Building with support from Belfast Policing and Community Safety Partnership and written by Professor Peter Shirlow and Dr Richard Montague at Queen’s University Belfast, the report’s key findings challenge a number of myths, stereotypes and commonly held misconceptions about migrants.

The report examines a number of areas such as population; employment; housing; benefits; economy; healthcare; education; crime; and social cohesion. Below are some of the report’s key findings:

  • Migrant workers contributed around £1.2 billion to the Northern Irish economy from 2004 to 2008
  • Only 4% of the Northern Ireland workforce is made up of migrant workers
  • Only 3% of the total number of pupils attending school in Northern Ireland are ethnic minorities
  • 81.5% of migrants in the UK are employed
  • Less than 5% of EU migrants claim Jobseekers Allowance
  • The cost of temporary migrants using the health service amounts to around 0.01% (£12 million) of the £109 billion NHS budget

The Unite Against Hate campaign has recently been re-launched by the Centre for Peace Building and Democracy who commissioned the ‘Challenging Racism: Ending Hate’ report into the facts about migrant populations in Northern Ireland.

The report highlights the fact that, contrary to popular belief, migrants contribute more in tax than they consume in public services. In Northern Ireland, migrant workers contributed around £1.2 billion to the Northern Irish economy from 2004 to 2008. Migration also contributes to sustaining economic growth, filling labour shortages, bringing much needed skills and enriching society through cultural diversity.

Speaking about the report, the Centre for Democracy and Peace Building Chairman Lord Alderdice said:

“In response to a number of race hate attacks in recent months, the Centre for Peace Building and Democracy was keen to commission a piece of work that would look seriously at the migrant population in Northern Ireland and demonstrate how much migrants contribute to our society.

“The report highlights contributions in tax, skills, labour and cultural diversity – enriching our society rather than threatening it.”

Belfast Lord Mayor Nichola Mallon said:

“Tackling racism continues to be a priority for Belfast City Council and is a priority which has all party political support.  The report provides a strong evidence base for Belfast as a city to be able to champion the positive social and economic benefits of diversity and to continue to promote Belfast as a welcoming and inclusive city”.

Professor Shirlow added:

“The report and its findings are profoundly important because they completely rebut the stereotypes that have plagued our migrant population in recent years. People need to be educated about the facts.

“We frequently hear claims that migrants take our jobs and use up our limited services. Migrants pose no threat to our society. This report will hopefully go some way towards changing the conversation about migrants in Northern Ireland.”

PCSP Chair Colin Keenan said:

“Belfast PCSP’s community engagement has shown that these myths have led to negative stereotyping of the migrant population in Belfast.  In extreme circumstances, these myths have been used as an excuse for racist hate crime which cannot be allowed to continue.  Belfast PCSP will play a full role in challenging these myths going forward.”

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