Tax Increase Fears Over Immigration

Tax increase fears over immigration
Press Association
The Guardian
Tuesday August 8, 2006 6:08 AM

People could face council tax rises of 6% on top of inflation-related increases in parts of the country over the next five years to pay for the cost of immigration to Britain, it is claimed.

Official figures grossly underestimate the level of immigration to the UK, meaning that funding to local authorities to meet the costs of migration is inadequate, according to the Local Government Association (LGA).

In order to maintain services in local authorities, large hikes in council tax could be seen over the next few years unless that situation changes, it says.

But the Government insists that the funding is “fair” and based on the most accurate figures available.

The claims come after Home Secretary John Reid called on Sunday for a migration advisory committee that would recommend to the Government an “optimum” level of migration.

The LGA's chairman, Sandy Bruce-Lockhart, has written to Mr Reid asking if he has asked for more more accurate figures and if so, when they will become available.

Figures on migration to England are provided for the Home Office by the Office for National Statistics, but it is the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) – Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott's former department – which allocates migration-related funding to local councils based on those figures.

This funding allows local authorities to meet, for example, the cost of educating the children of migrants.

In his letter, Lord Bruce-Lockhart said: “Working migrants have become an invisible population whose children need school places, who need to be housed appropriately and in some cases need social services. Official statistics have failed to reflect this.”

It continued: “Unless accurate, up-to-date figures on migration are produced, so that the proper funding to councils can be reflected, this could pose severe problems in the future as services get cut, or council tax has to rise disproportionately for growing migrant population.”