Local councils need more support with immigration, says Trevor Phillips

Trevor Phillips, chair of the Equality and Human Rights Commission, responded to David Cameron's call to embark on a grown up debate about immigration and supported the Local Government Association's call for more financial support to help local communities manage the effects of immigration. Addressing an audience of local authority chief executives, Mr Phillips said:

'For the first time in my adult life I heard a party leader clearly attempting to deracialise the issue of immigration and to treat it like any other question of political and economic management.

'And given that Mr Cameron is speaking against a background in which his party's policy inheritance is defined by Howard, Hague, Thatcher and Powell, this seems to me like a turning point in our national debate about immigration - one that will make it possible for us to speak openly and sensibly about the subject, which most of the country sees as the single most important in politics.'

Mr Phillips went on to say:

'But Mr Cameron has a little way to go on this matter himself. He was right to focus on the prosperity that new migrants bring, and also to point out that this is counterbalanced by pressures on our infrastructure and public services. He is asking the 21st century question about immigration. But unfortunately he is giving the 20th century answer in proposing that all of these issues can be solved by capping numbers.  Rather, we need to meet head on the challenges of rapid and diverse population growth. We need to find ways to capitalise on the injection of energy that new migrants bring, and bolster our infrastructure and public services to cope with the new demands. When our infrastructure creaks, apparently because of unexpected new arrivals, it has a collateral impact on community relations.'

In response to the Local Government Authority's call today for a £250 million contingency fund to help councils deal with migration, Mr Phillips said:

'We support the LGA's argument today that extra funding in the form of a £250 million contingency fund should be given to areas that experience rapid population change. This will ensure that the money being generated by new migrants - some £40bn according to the LGA report - finds its way back down to the local level.

'In channelling money back into mainstream services, such as housing, education, information and advice, it will help local authorities deliver equality and fairness at precisely the time when they are coming under the most pressure.'

Posted by, Asif Yusuf



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