A sharp rise in foreign national workers

News story
News story

THE number of foreign nationals who have been granted the right to work in Wigan has doubled over the last year.

Government figures from Department for Work and Pensions shows that the amount of people given National Insurance numbers has jumped from 588 in the 12-month period of June 2013/14 to 1,174 in June 2014/15.

Overall, Greater Manchester has seen a 71 per cent increase in legal migrants given official working status, from 18,621 in 2013/14 to 31,842 in 2014/15.

The borough has the fifth highest increase, with Oldham having the biggest new intake, more than doubling from 930 in the 12 months to June 2014 to 1,928 the same period in 2015.

But Bolton has the most foreign nationals able to work, with 2,471, with Wigan being the third highest.

Wigan MP Lisa Nandy said: “Wigan has long been regarded as a great place to work or study. We attract young engineers from across the world to study at Wigan and Leigh college and our health services benefit from nurses and doctors like Dr Naqvi, who has raised hundreds of thousands of pounds to give us one of the best heart units in the country.

“Their contribution to our local economy opens up opportunities for Wigan’s young people.

“We should be proud of the welcome we give to people from overseas, especially people fleeing war or torture. With better support and planning from the Home Office we could make sure people are housed and supported properly and avoid causing stress and anxiety in the community.”

Wigan Council’s fully supports the influx of international workers, as it will bring diversity and would build on its Wigan Works campaign which aims to bring new jobs, investment and skills to the borough

Coun David Molyneux, cabinet member for regeneration, said: “The Wigan Works vision is to create a place where people want to invest, live, work and visit and we’ll achieve this by having a thriving and diverse workforce.”

Earlier this month, Home Secretary Theresa May has told the Conservative Party conference that when immigration is too high, wages are “forced down even further” for people in low-paid jobs, while “some people are forced out of work altogether.”

But recent research suggests immigration has relatively minor effects on average wages.

A 2009 study by the Institute for Public Policy Research found that, between 2000 and 2007, a rise in the number of migrants equivalent to one per cent of the UK-born working age population lowered average wages by 0.3 per cent.

By contrast, a 2013 report in the Review of Economic Studies looked at the period 1997-2005, and found that a similar one per cent increase in migrants saw average wages go up by between 0.1 and 0.3 per cent.

The report in the Review of Economic Studies suggested that each one per cent increase in the share of migrants in the working population can lead to a 0.6 per cent decline in the wages of the five per cent lowest paid workers. At the same time, it can also lead to an increase in the wages of higher paid workers.

Employment in the UK grew by 342,000 in the year to June 2015, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS). Some 25 per cent of this can be put down to a growth in employment for UK nationals and 75% by a growth in employment amongst foreign nationals.

These figures refer to the number of people in employment rather than the number of jobs.

The latest figures from the ONS suggest there are currently 3.2m non-UK nationals working in the UK, two million of which are from the European Union.