Britain's immigrants are helping the NHS, not hurting it

Two key experts on Britain’s public services just debunked one of the biggest arguments from those against mass immigration in Britain.

In a report by the Financial Times, two leading experts in the field said immigration has had a hugely positive impact on crucial services, such as the NHS, due to them filling a skills gap in the workforce.

An Ipsos MORI survey conducted last year showed that up to three-quarters of Britons felt that migrants put pressure on public services — but the experts say otherwise.

Anna Charlesworth, director of research at independent charity the Health Foundation, said
that “people don’t know how we (Britain) would have got through” without the input of migrant workers.

Rob Whiteman, chief executive of the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy, added that a Brexit could “create a damaging skills gap, particularly in health, social care, and social housing” as the number of migrants who could potentially contribute to these sectors in labour would be slashed.

The real challenge posed to Britain’s public services has been austerity, not migration, added Charlesworth.

“Four out of five hospitals cannot balance their books: they ended the financial year with a deficit of £2.5 billion ($3.6 billion). A deficit on that scale, affecting so many organisations, is unprecedented,” she said.

The government’s continued efforts to reduce the budget deficit means that day-to-day spending on public services is set to fall by 12.6% between 2010-11 and 2019-20, according to the Financial Times.

However, Charlesworth and Whiteman’s comments do not chime with public opinion according to the Ipsos MORI survey conducted last year.

With this in mind, it is not a surprise that immigration to Britain has been a major talking point leading up to the EU referendum on June 23.

The Leave campaign argues that the country is being damaged by high levels of immigration and should leave the 28-nation bloc so that it can exercise greater control of its borders.

The Leave campaign’s stipulation was boosted on Thursday when new data revealed that net migration to Britain had neared an all-time high in 2015.

It comes as no shock that the campaign — fronted by Tory ministers Boris Johnson, Michael Gove, and Iain Duncan Smith — is set to focus primarily on the issue of immigration in few weeks that remain until voting day.

It wouldn’t be unwise of Leave to focus what’s left of its campaign on an issue that the majority of the public sides with it on. That’s because the Remain campaign is leading with a significant margin, according to analysts, bookmakers, and most opinion polls.

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