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IoD welcomes Labour rejection of ‘arbitrary’ immigration targets

29 Apr 2015

But business leaders accuse politicians of souring debate on benefits and costs of migration

Research from the Institute of Directors has shown that businesses are frustrated with the way politicians are talking about immigration, and feel they are contributing to a lack of public understanding.

In a survey of 1,039 IoD members, conducted between March 26 and April 9 2015, two-thirds (66%) of business leaders said that the way political parties discuss immigration has had a negative impact on the public’s understanding of the associated costs and benefits.

As Ed Miliband unveils Labour’s ten-point plan to address immigration, Simon Walker commended him for rejecting arbitrary net migration targets, and called on politicians to begin a mature conversation with the public:

“Ed Miliband is right to rule out net migration targets. Putting an arbitrary figure on the number of people you think should be arriving in the UK every year is not the stuff of serious policymaking. The target has damaged our reputation overseas and put off the very people we should be welcoming into our country, including entrepreneurs and students.

“Businesses value – and need – access to a highly-skilled and international talent pool in order to compete in the global economy. As the parties have recognised in their manifestos, part of the long-term solution is to address our skills gaps at home. But growing businesses need engineers, developers and scientists now and the UK will always benefit from being able to attract people with different skills, backgrounds and experiences from across the world.

“Of course, immigration brings both costs and benefits. But politicians have been all too quick to talk up the costs in recent years, while only grudgingly recognising the benefits. We should expect better, and it is encouraging to see Ed Miliband make steps in this direction. It is the job of politicians to address and deal with legitimate concerns over the impact of immigration on schools, hospitals, infrastructure and housing, not stoke fears in the hope of political gain.”

In a survey conducted between March 26 and April 9 2015, 1,039 IoD members were asked:

Immigration is one of the key issues in this election. Do you think that political parties’ discussion of the subject has been generally positive or negative in helping the public to understand and balance the costs and benefits?

Very positive


Quite positive


Neither positive nor negative


Quite negative


Very negative


Don’t know


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