The impact of migrants on London, its workforce and its economy

The impact of migrants on London, its workforce and its economy

This research, undertaken by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) on behalf of London First, used data made available via the Office for National Statistics (ONS) Secure Research Service (SRS), which is being expanded and improved with ADR UK funding. 

PwC was commissioned by London First – a not-for-profit consortium of businesses, including several important financial institutions – to analyse the impact of migration on the London labour market. The aim of the research was to provide policymakers and service planners with a factual summary of how migration to London from Europe and beyond has affected London’s population, workforce and economy. 

The analysis, carried out between November 2016 and January 2017, used the ONS Annual Population Survey (APS) – all years 2006-2016; the ONS Annual Business Survey (ABS) – all years from 2008; and the London Business Survey (LBS) 2014 that ONS carries out on behalf of the Greater London Authority. De-identified data from the LBS and ABS was linked and matched at aggregate level with comparable characteristics from the APS/Labour Force Survey, in the ONS SRS. This allowed identification of industry sector, employment percentage and type, salary band, country of origin, nationality, time in the UK, region, London borough and skill of position and role. 

The study highlighted that the population of London is growing and increased from 7.4 million in 2005 to 8.7 million in 2015. It concludes that the growth of the capital’s EU population, at 7.7% a year over the last decade, has far outstripped the growth of London’s UK born population at 0.4% and the non-EU population at 2.4%. The research reports that migration is delivering benefits in London and around the UK. On average, each migrant worker contributes a net additional £46,000 in Gross Value Added (GVA) per annum to London’s economy. With approximately 1.8 million migrant workers in London, their total contribution is around £83 billion – 22% of London’s GVA per annum. 

The public benefit for the research is considerable. With the UK’s exit from the EU, it is important to understand the role migrants play in the economy when setting a new policy framework for migration, and these research findings provide an evidence base for these decisions. In addition, the findings will assist businesses to make informed decisions about the impact of migration on skills and talent within their own organisations. 

Following publication of the findings, Julia Onslow Cole, Head of Global Immigration at PwC and also a member of the Mayor of London’s Brexit Advisory Council, briefed the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, and London First met with senior Home Office officials. The Mayor has referenced the report findings in relation to Brexit and the Government’s Industrial Strategy. 

The research outcomes were also reported on by various media outlets including the Financial Times, City AM and the Evening Standard. PwC also published a blog setting out their experiences of using the ONS Approved Researcher scheme and the ONS Secure Research Service.  

Read the full report on the PwC website

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