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Councils demand support for migrants

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The Local Government Association has called on the government to help councils whose services are struggling to meet increasing demand caused by their growing populations.

The LGA-commissioned report praises the benefits that immigrants bring to British society, but warns council services, like education, housing and health, are struggling to cope with increasing demand.

The report calls for:

  • A£250m migration 'contingency fund' to allow councils experiencing high rates of migration to apply for extra money

  • More accurate ways of measuring migration by using GP registrations, national insurance numbers and schools census data

  • A commitment from ministers to implement and speed up existing proposals to tighten up official population statistics

"Official statistics on how many migrants are coming and where they are going are inadequate. No one has a real grasp of where, or for how long, migrants are settling, so much needed funding for local services isn't getting to the right places," said LGA chairman Sir Simon Milton (Con).

Government response

Responding to the report, communities secretary Hazel Blears said: "The effects of migration can put a strain on public services, especially when there is a large movement into an area in a short space of time and we recognise that some individual local authorities are experiencing more challenges than others.

"The LGA have put forward some challenging questions and we will continue our existing work with local government on the best way to manage them."

Earlier, the government revealed it had underestimated the number of immigrants working in Britain.

London feels the strain

London boroughs top the tables for areas most affected by international migration, making up 15 of the top 20 places.

London Councils chairman cllr Merrick Cockell (Con) said: “Services such as social care, policing and waste in London face intense pressure from the demands of a rapidly increasing population but no additional funding from government.

Situation "unsustainable and ludicrous"

"This is both totally unsustainable and ludicrous, especially when you consider the additional money that government is receiving in taxes from the population growth.

Population miscount crisis

Mr Cockell said the report offered "sound and clear reasoning" for why councils desperately need an urgent funding solution
to "solve this population miscount crisis".

"It is now for government to admit its population counting methods are totally unfit for purpose and offer a real solution to councils who are suffering from these figures’ shortcomings.”

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