The New Local Government Network has unveiled a raft of proposals to help local communities integrate new migrant workers.
Amongst the proposals include changing the grant formula to support areas of significant migrant labour, developing better, localised forms of data management and offering greater training and support to long-standing residents who are unemployed or disadvantaged.
Managing New Migration: A local approach to a global phenomenon, argues that whilst many areas have benefited from an influx of migrant workers, the current funding mechanism for local authorities could be reformed to help communities cope. It advocates rewarding areas that increase levels of employment by devolving a section of the starting rate of income tax directly to councils. This ‘taxes as grants’ system would allow councils “a better automatic fiscal incentive to help local services adapt to local population shifts”.
Author Matthew Clifton argues:
“Substituting crude local authority grant with an immediate share of tax take and revenue could better relieve pressure on services and budgets while reacting positively to local population growth. The share of income tax is particularly powerful and requires no change in the national tax regime, nor does it require the introduction of any new local tax. But a local assignment of income tax does create an automatic mechanism to reward local growth and create an incentive to improve local service management”.
The report, which is supported by the Learning and Skills Council, also acknowledges that so-called ‘NEETs’ (people not in education, employment or training) should receive more support from local authorities and their LSP partners. It suggests offering long-term unemployed people guaranteed interviews for relevant jobs within the LSP and giving them mobility and clothing allowances to help attend interviews. This greater emphasis should help to mitigate any influx of migrant workers according to the report:
“Though new migrants are taking jobs where there are vacancies, there may be some displacement effects experienced by established communities. Local action should target a generation of disadvantaged people, neglected by today’s global jobs market and unable to participate in Britain’s growing economy”
The report also questions the accuracy of centrally compiled data and suggests exploring the possibility of using more localised information when measuring the number of migrants in local communities.