The impacts of migrants and migration into Scotland

Aims to summarise and evaluate the recent literature on the impacts of migrants and migration into Scotland.

4. Impact of migration on public services

Public services (general)

Key points

  • Systematic data and analysis relating to migrants' use of public services is limited. However, individual studies are beginning to fill the gaps in the evidence base, both at the UK and Scotland level.
  • Aggregate expenditure on state education and public services in the UK has been calculated using 2009-10 data. Analysis indicates that an estimated 12.5 per cent of total expenditure was allocated to non- UK migrants and their children: less than their share as a proportion of the UK population.

Any increase in population, such as Scotland has experienced in recent years, increases the number of potential users of public services. In their 2009 literature review, Rolfe and Metcalf pointed out that 'migration is likely to have particular impacts because of the nature of migrant populations. These include their social characteristics such as age and family structure, their English language skills and expectations of public services. Migration impacts are also dependent on length of stay, with temporary stays placing different demands on services than long-term settlement' (2009: para 4.1). However, there are two dimensions to understanding the impacts of migration on public services, since migrants are also providers of services. This review attempts to gain a better understanding of both dimensions.

In 2011, a report by researchers at the Migration Observatory noted that, while there is considerable anecdotal evidence, little systematic data and analysis exist about migrants' use of public services. This lack of systematic evidence is mainly due to the fact that migration status is recorded inconsistently (or not at all) when public services are provided (Blinder et al, 2011:10).

The authors state that there is 'even less information about the value of migrants' contributions to the provision of public services in the UK' ( ibid:10). They argue that migrants contribute to the provision of public services by providing skills that are not available or in short supply in the UK, and by facilitating the provision of public services at a cost that is lower than would be the case if those services were dependent on the supply of British workers. 'Immigration is thus a form of "subsidy" to public services that benefits service providers, consumers and the taxpayer' ( ibid:10).

The programme of research reported in the MAC Analysis of the Impacts of Migration (2012) includes six commissioned projects on various public service and social impacts. These will be considered in the specific sections of this chapter. However, their conclusion is that 'the consumption of public services, crime and transport congestion are the areas where there is greatest scope for … improved data collection and for analysis to lead to reasonably robust monetary estimates of the impacts of migration' (2012:10-11).

There is even less Scotland-specific research. Studies that have been conducted are relatively small and specific to local areas (North East Scotland; Glasgow; rural Scotland) and particular population and demographic groups. Research by Sime and Fox (2015) drew on concepts of social capital and social networks to specifically examine migrant children's access to a range of services. The authors conducted focus groups with Eastern European migrant children (most of whom were new arrivals) and subsequently developed over 20 in-depth family case studies. They found that where services are 'mainly suited for the native population,' cultural differences may put migrants at a disadvantage and place a heavier burden on children to assist with parents' decisions and actions.

Sime and Fox argue that migrant children play a crucial role in 'mediating their families' engagement with statutory services' because they have better English skills and more exposure to local contacts through school and inter-ethnic friendships (2015:531). Although the focus of the research is specifically on children's access to services, a subject that the authors acknowledge has received little research attention, it raises questions about the nature of services and how they are designed and delivered, particularly in areas where non- UK migrants form a small part of the local population.

A study by Kay and Morrison in 2012 examined localised social and cultural impacts of migration. The work focused on Glasgow and, although it did not focus on particular groups of migrants, specific reference is made by the authors to the Roma population in Govanhill. Kay and Morrison argue that the focus on Glasgow gave the study 'a particular "flavour," given not only the city's unique experience of dispersal, but also its longer history of immigration and greater diversity of second and third generation migrant communities from Ireland, Italy, South Asia and elsewhere' (2012:2).

The research by Kay and Morrison involved interviews with more than 20 stakeholders from a range of organisations and services working with migrants. Interviewees noted that the arrival of significant numbers of East European Roma in Govanhill, in particular, put considerable strain on statutory and voluntary services in the area (schools, healthcare, police services, social work) as migrants brought new levels of poverty and deprivation to the area. Services struggled to cope, especially in the first years, due to lack of adequate planning and resources. The study also found that a subsequent flow of money and resources to the area, and an upsurge in third sector activity, added to tensions within the community, because local residents felt that longstanding needs for regeneration and development in the area were being overlooked. 'The challenge … was how to make those benefits spread across the community, across everyone …' (2012:7).

In a paper published in 2009, De Lima and Wright explored EU labour migration in rural Scotland, drawing on findings from an empirical study of migrant workers in the Grampian region which included interviews, focus groups and postal questionnaires with 61 employers from a range of sectors. The study, which was carried out in 2006, found that service providers in rural areas often lack the necessary experience, skills and resources to address the requirements of growing and culturally diverse migrant populations. Issues of distance and lack of economies of scale were also found to pose challenges for service delivery in rural areas (2009:398). Although the study is not recent, the focus on how public sector agencies might improve their response to migrant workers makes a useful contribution to the evidence base. Given that rural Scotland accounts for 98 per cent of the land mass of Scotland, and that nearly a fifth of Scotland's population is resident in rural and remote areas, the scale of the challenges faced by service planners and providers in relation to increasingly diverse migrant populations is evident. The most recent data available (Annual Population Survey, 2013, published in Rural Scotland Key Facts 2015) indicates that non- UK migrants now make up 5 per cent of the population in remote and 4 per cent in accessible rural areas [16] .

At the UK level, research has estimated public expenditure on state education and public services (personal social services and health) for migrants and non-migrants. Detailed calculations conducted by George et al (2011) as part of their work for MAC are useful to consider, as this review was unable to find any such research relating specifically to Scotland. The summary figures from their calculations (using Annual Population Survey data) are included below (Table 4.1). The authors also provide numerous disaggregations of data but, because any Scotland-specific analysis is limited to particular migrant groups (compared with 'all others,' including non-migrants) its usefulness is likely to be limited. As George et al point out, 'the impact of migrant groups at a local level may differ from the national picture, due to concentration of migrants in some localities placing pressure on resources at a local level' (2011:35).

The authors note that an estimated 12.5 per cent of total expenditure on state education and public services in the UK in 2009-10 was allocated to migrants and their children. As migrants made up 13 per cent of the population as a whole at the time, this was less than their share. Therefore, spending per head on migrants was less than on people born in the UK ( ibid:45).

Table 4.1: Aggregate expenditure on state education and public services, 2009-10 ( UK)

Expenditure Population
£ million £ per head £ per adult % of UK expenditure % of UK population
Whole population 223,192 3,662 5,173 100.0 100.0
Non-migrants 195,398 3,708 5,147 87.5 87
All migrants 27,793 3,514 5,374 12.5 13.0
Migrant in last 10 years 9,736 3,000 4,308 4.4 5.3
Migrant in last 5 years 4,458 2,751 3,628 2.0 2.7
Non- EEA economic migrant 1,512 2,878 3,992 0.7 0.9
Tier 1 or 2 migrant 824 2,852 3,954 0.4 0.5
Tier 4 migrant 453 2,571 3,044 0.2 0.3

Source: adapted from George et al, 2011, page 45, table 4.7. Estimates based on PESA 2011 chapter 10, tables 10.1-10.4, 2009-10. Annual Population Survey January 2009-December 2009.

Health and social care

Key points

  • Health services in Scotland need to accommodate the needs and expectations of an increasingly diverse population. However, migrants from outside the UK are, in general, young and have low healthcare needs.
  • Where evidence exists in relation to increased demand for health services resulting from migration, it is associated with social deprivation, poor language skills and, possibly, lack of knowledge about the health system.
  • The literature indicates relatively low rates of GP registration among migrants.
  • Demand for health services is likely to increase as migrants age, and as their health behaviours change. Several studies have shown that migrants' health can deteriorate the longer they stay in the UK, in relation to alcohol use, smoking behaviour and eating habits, for example. Therefore, the low impact on health services may dissipate over time.
  • Health services in the UK are reliant on migrant labour, particularly that of non- EEA migrants.

In 2009, the Rolfe and Metcalf review concluded that ' there is little evidence of any increased demand on health services resulting from in-migration. Research suggests that migrants make few demands on health services because they are, on average, younger, in employment and without children. It is generally agreed that this will change as migrants begin to settle but precisely how is currently not known' (2009: para 4.42).

One of the specially commissioned research projects to feed into the MAC review of the impacts of migration in the UK provides a useful summary of the literature relating to migrants' consumption of health services. The main focus of the review (George et al, 2011 ) is on migrants with Tier 1, 2 and 4 visas ( i.e. non- EEA). However, the review is in fact more comprehensive, with findings relating specifically to non- EEA migrants noted separately. The authors draw attention to the fact that: ' although there is evidence that some migrants do place greater demands on parts of the health service, this is associated with social deprivation ( e.g. a higher incidence of TB), poor English language skills and, possibly, lack of knowledge of the health system.' George et al note that these issues are unlikely to relate to Tier 1 and 2 migrants, 'many of whom work in UK-based companies, originate from English speaking countries and are disproportionately in professional roles' (2011:vi).

The authors found that there is ' very little research which looks directly at the impact of migration on public services. The focus of much of research is on migrants' access to and use of services … Its emphasis is on whether migrants are aware of and make use of services to which they are entitled and may need, rather than on the impact on services they may acess. This approach is found particularly in research on health' (2011:7).

The main areas of interest included in the literature relating to migration and health services (as assessed by George et al) are:

  • The effect of migration on levels of demand for health services
  • How migrants use health services
  • Public health impacts arising from migration.

These will be considered in turn below, with Scotland-specific research highlighted where applicable. It should be noted that most of the Scotland-specific evidence on health services comes from local studies that focus on migrant experiences. However, the work is useful in relation to the impact on health services of differences in patient needs (especially in relation to communication and expectations of the service).

Demand for health services

Research has largely been based on levels of demand from EU migrants and migrants in general. George et al found no research focused on demand from non- EEA economic migrants (2011:8). The authors cite a number of regional studies on the demand for primary and secondary health services. This includes the conclusion of the 2010 Scottish Parliament report, that there is 'little evidence of increased demand for health services resulting from migration into Scotland. Focusing on the impact of A8 migration, its report cites evidence provided by NHS Lothian that migrants are mostly in their 20s and 30s with low healthcare needs. A distinction is made between these, economic, migrants and asylum seekers and refugees who have more significant and specific health needs.' However, the authors also note that a number of researchers have stated that it should not be assumed that levels of demand for health care from migrants will necessarily remain low (2011:9).

How migrants use health services

The review by George et al reported that a number of studies have looked at migrants' levels of registration with GP practices and dentists and their use of hospitals, particularly Accident and Emergency services. The literature indicates relatively low rates of GP registration among migrants, although rates have been found to be higher among migrants who live with a partner, children or parents. George et al provide a summary of possible reasons for low registration rates:

  • Lack of knowledge and understanding of primary and secondary healthcare systems in the UK
  • Language barriers
  • Taking time off work for appointments
  • GP practice opening hours (2011:11).

George et al note that a number of reports have stated that there may be a connection between low GP registration rates and the use that migrants make of hospital Accident and Emergency departments for primary healthcare needs. The authors only cite one study, a survey of patients presenting at the Emergency services of a London hospital. This found that a number of factors were associated with not having a GP; these included being aged 35 or under, being male, living in the UK for less than five years. However, there is no indication of the survey's sample size or when it was conducted. George et al highlight three separate studies that have found 'little evidence of strain on Accident and Emergency departments resulting from inappropriate use by migrants' although none of these is more recent than 2010 and one relates specifically to Wales. George et al assess that the evidence that does exist is 'largely second-hand and anecdotal' and so, presumably, is not robust (2011:12).

A qualitative study which highlights that Scotland's health service needs to adapt to accommodate the needs of an increasingly diverse population was conducted by Sime (2014). The study involved interviews and focus groups with service providers, children and their families, and explored the experiences of the children of East European migrant workers in urban and rural Scotland. The study identifies a number of underlying barriers to accessing health services:

  • Uncertainty over their families' entitlement to health care and treatment
  • Differences in provision and approach to treatment, affecting levels of trust in the system
  • Language barriers making treatment confusing and visits to health practitioners stressful (2014:89).

Findings from the study indicate that migrants take an active role in making decisions about the use they make of health services, rather than being passive receivers of the services that are available, especially when it comes to children's health. Sime found that migrants often sought confirmation from doctors in their country of birth, or reassurance from members of their family or diaspora community ( ibid:91). The author concludes that the evidence suggests that, contrary to public speculation about 'health tourism' to abuse the NHS system in the UK, migrants are more likely to distrust provision and to rely instead on transnational access to health care or informal networks of support ( ibid:92).

Another aspect of the stress experienced by migrants in the health system is highlighted by Bray et al in a retrospective audit of obstetric case records of new European migrants giving birth in Lothian hospitals (2010). The study focused on over 80 per cent of a total of 136 obstetric case records. The authors found substantial evidence that language barriers adversely affected access to healthcare, quality of care, patient satisfaction and health outcomes, in all hospital services (2010:27). The recording of use of interpretation services was poor, and use of interpretation services 'also appeared to be selective.' Staff were distressed by poor communication and were 'aware of the ethical and practical shortcoming of pragmatically using inappropriate interpreters' such as patients' children, or partners who lack understanding of procedures (2010:28).

Public health impact of migration

The review by George et al found that a number of studies have noted the absence of readily accessible data on the health of new migrants and the lack of clarity about health issues and healthcare needs. 'However, a key message from research on migration and health impacts is that economic migrants are generally healthy, because they are generally young and are less likely than non-migrants to have disabilities affecting their daily lives' (2011:12). The authors found little published research that has surveyed migrants about their general health. Literature has addressed mental health and wellbeing among migrant groups, but much of this research does not include analyses by migrant status or length of residence in the UK and uses terms such as 'ethnic minority' and 'immigrant' imprecisely ( ibid:13). However, the authors note that several studies have shown that migrants' health can deteriorate with length of stay within the UK, for example in relation to alcohol use, smoking behaviour and eating habits. Research findings suggest UK Indian male migrants, especially Sikhs, show rates of alcohol abuse and related problems of liver cirrhosis considerabley higher than English males; other research refers to increases in cardiovascular problems and cancer. George et al note that the costs of this and other hazardous behaviour in relation to medical interventions and healthcare have not been calculated ( ibid:13).

The MAC research that the work by George et al contributed to focused on Tiers 1, 2 & 4 of the Points Based System (see Annex 1 for definitions). On the basis that these migrants 'tend to be young, healthy, highly educated, highly skilled and in employment,' they were likely to consume 'below-average levels of health and social care services relative to the average existing UK resident, at least in the short term.' The MAC report noted that migrants' consumption of services is likely to be strongly influenced by the number and age of any dependents they may bring to the UK, and that this will not necessarily be known at their time of arrival. However, because these migrants ' tend to earn good incomes and have above average propensity to be employed by multi-national firms suggests that at least some of these migrants and their dependents are likely to consume privately- rather than publicly-provided health & education services'. The MAC discussion concludes that the impact on the consumption of public services by these migrants could be offset by their contribution to the exchequer (2012:84-85).

Migrants working in the health and social care sector

Health services are heavily reliant on migrant labour. Dustmann and Frattini (2011) report that, in 2005, 38 per cent of the medical staff in the NHS came from outside the UK. The period 1999-2005 saw a major international recruitment drive as a response to the need for additional staffing for the UK's health sector, although the expansion in the NHS workforce came to a halt when funding shortages surfaced (2011:20). Dustmann and Frattini's research also found that non- EEA migrants are more strongly concentrated in the health sector than EEA migrants. The authors report that the concentration of non- EEA migrants in the health sector has increased over time: between 1994 and 1996, 36 per cent of non- EEA migrants in the public sector worked in the health sector. This increased to 41 per cent over the period 2008-2010 ( ibid:43).

Research by the Institute for Public Policy Research ( IPPR) in 2014 summarised the existing evidence on the impacts of migration on British public services. The summary of each public service area is brief, but it notes that in 2008, migrants comprised 19 per cent of carer and 35 per cent of nurse roles in older adult care, and that the number of foreign-born care workers has been increasing at a faster rate than both migration in general, and the size of the care workforce in general. The IPPR report argues that ' this, combined with an ageing population, means that the role of migrants in holding together a fragile social care system is extremely significant' (2014:25).

Analysis of the characteristics of EEA and non- EEA migrants in Scotland by the Scottish Government (2016a) using 2011 Census data differentiated between recent migrants (those who had been resident in Scotland for less than ten years at the time of the 2011 Census) and established migrants. This work included a focus on sector of employment. Approximately 15 per cent of people in each population group who were in employment were working in the 'human health and social work' sector [17] . The percentage was highest for recent non- EEA migrants. However, just 8 per cent of recent EEA migrants (in employment) were working in this sector. See Table 4.2.

Table 4.2: Sector of employment - Human health and social work - Scotland-born and all migrants aged 16 to 74 in employment

Born in Scotland
Born in rest of UK
EEA recent
EEA established
Non- EEA recent
Non- EEA established
Human health & social work 15 15 8 16 20 16

Source: Taken from Scotland's Census 2011 - NRS: Table AT_084b_2011.


Key points

  • On the evidence available, it is difficult to assess the direct and indirect impacts of migration on house prices, rents and social housing. However, there is a body of research relating to the housing choices and housing conditions of migrants.
  • A number of small, qualitative studies have examined housing choices and housing conditions for particular migrant groups in specific locations in Scotland. Findings are not generalisable, but there is some evidence that bringing together migrant housing need with available housing supply can enable migrants to live independently and make improvements to their accommodation. On the other hand, evidence suggests that migrants may pay higher rents for poor quality accommodation in areas of social deprivation.
  • Recent migrants are less likely to be home owners, and more likely to be accommodated in the private rental sector. This changes over time; by the time migrants have been in the UK for 20 years or longer, more than 70 per cent are owner occupiers and less than 10 per cent are in privately rented accommodation.

This section of the review explores the impact of migration on public and private housing [18] . The Rolfe and Metcalf review found there was limited data relating to migrants' access to housing and that, from existing data sources relating to tenure, it was not possible to distinguish recent migrants from others who migrated to the UK at an earlier stage of their lives. The authors reported that 'some studies which look at a range of services have identified housing as a key area in terms of migrants' needs. Others have a specific focus on housing, usually within a defined geographical area. Some research has looked at the impact of particular groups' (2009: para 4.11).

Available evidence indicates that, in general, this assessment remains true. In 2011, researchers at the Migration Observatory included 'impact on housing' as one of the ' Top ten problems in the evidence base for public debate and policy-making on immigration in the UK' in their report of the same name (Blinder et al, 2011). There is little systematic evidence that allows the direct and indirect impacts of migration on house prices, rents and social housing to be assessed, at national and local levels (2011:11).

Housing sector

In their report, Blinder et al note that much of the research evidence relates to the housing choices of migrants (renting private accommodation, home ownership and social housing). Quantitative studies generally use data from the UK's Labour Force Survey ( LFS), which contains information about housing sector choices of both migrants and UK-born individuals. This has allowed researchers to conclude that people from outside the UK have lower ownership rates than the UK-born and greater representation in the rental sector (2011:11). Research by Vargas-Silva (2015b) using LFS data from the same year, found that the longer migrants live in the UK, the more likely they are to become owner occupiers, and the less likely they are to be in the private rented sector, as might be expected. For those in their first five years living in the UK, Vargas-Silva found that approximately 13 per cent were owner occupiers and almost 75 per cent were living in the private rented sector. For those who had been in the UK for more than 20 years, more than 70 per cent were owner occupiers and less than ten per cent were in privately rented accommodation (2015b:3).

There is much less evidence on the ways that migration impacts (directly and indirectly) on house prices, rents, and social housing at national and local levels (Blinder et al, 2011:11). As the authors state, positive net-migration leads to an increase in the demand for housing, which can impact on house prices and rents. However, the nature of these impacts depends on the responsiveness of the supply of housing to changes in demand. There can also be 'important inter-relationships' between the owner occupier sector and the private rented sector; for example if increased demand for rented accommodation encourages investors to enter the buy-to-let market, which in turn 'could increase house prices' ( ibid:11).

On the other hand, Vargas-Silva (2015b) highlights research by Sa in England and Wales in 2015, which found that migration has a negative effect on regional house prices. Sa estimated that a 1 per cent increase in the migration share of the population in an area reduces house prices by almost 2 per cent, and found that this effect is particularly strong in areas with a large concentration of low-educated migrants. Sa suggests that the dynamic is the result of UK-born residents moving out of areas with increasing migrant concentration (2015b:5). As the research was conducted in England and Wales, findings are not necessarily applicable to Scotland. However, it is likely that a similar dynamic operates in areas with large migrant populations and, although the majority of non- UK migrants are well educated, analysis of the Census 2011 indicates that more than one in four EEA established migrants and more than one in five non- EEA established migrants has no qualifications (Scottish Government, 2016a:23).

Blinder et al note that there is more evidence on social housing, although this is still limited. Recent migrants are less likely than the UK-born population to be accommodated in the social housing sector, but the propensity of migrants to be in social housing increases over the length of time they remain in the country. However, there is no research about the indirect effects of migration on the relationship between social housing and the private rented sector. The researchers argue that even if migrants themselves do not use social housing, migration may still change the demand for social housing indirectly by driving up rents in the private sector and making more people dependent on social housing. The costs of social housing provision may also rise because of increased competition for properties from the private rented sector (2011:11).

At the Scotland level, the evidence base comprises small, qualitative studies. One of the projects commissioned to feed into the MAC Analysis of the Impacts of Migration in 2012 (Whitehead et al, 2011) included a qualitative element focused on Aberdeen, as a contrast to the main focus on London, and involved a web-based survey and interviews with companies and estate agents. Aberdeen was selected because of a high concentration of Tier 1 and Tier 2 migrants, due to the demand for skilled employment in the oil industry. In Aberdeen, as in London, estate agents reported reduced availability of suitable rental properties, and resulting competition between potential tenants. The authors point out that such competition and the shortage of suitable property coming forward for renting leads to larger deposit requirements to secure a property, and 'anecdotal reports of rent for a year or more being paid up front' (2011:41). Although the research focused on Tier 1 and Tier 2 migrants, it is, of course, unclear whether interview participants would have been able to differentiate between types of migrant, so findings may be more widely applicable. In addition, the study does not record how many estate agents were interviewed in Aberdeen, or whether the report of reduced availability of rental properties came from all, most or just a few of the participants.

Housing conditions

A study by De Lima and Wright (2009) included employers from a range of sectors, migrant workers and service providers in rural Scotland. The study found a difference in perceptions - one local authority in the Grampian area perceived the allocation of 'low demand' housing to migrants as a success; however, migrant workers expressed concerns about being housed in 'undesirable areas' (2009:398). The study also claimed that motivations for migration impact on migrants' housing preferences: migrants hoping to earn and save as much money as possible often opt to live in homes of multiple occupation ( ibid:398/399).

In 2013, McGhee et al conducted a small qualitative study focusing on Polish families taking up tenancies in particular parts of Glasgow. The study also drew on recent articles and reports that examined A8 or post-accession Polish housing and accommodation in the UK. The authors included an extract from an Audit Commission report from 2007 stating that: 'Glasgow is a city well known for bringing together a 'housing need' with a 'housing supply. Post-accession Poles are the most recent population to fill the 'void' in Glasgow's 'unpopular' and therefore low-demand housing in areas of social deprivation' (2013:331).

The research found that the common housing objective for participants was to live independently as a couple or family unit, and the ability to do this was a major factor in 'many of our participants' "settlement discourses." For a number of our participants, returning to Poland would mean returning to 'extended-family' living, which they see as a major step backwards' ( ibid:332).

This new version of 'housing normality' was found to extend beyond the quality and quantity of accommodation in Scotland to a sense of security that tenancy and access to other benefits provided for them and their families in the UK ( ibid:332/333). The study also reported research conducted for Glasgow Housing Association in 2008, which found that some housing associations in Glasgow have viewed the arrival of A8 migrants into the city as a potential opportunity to let properties that have been difficult to let in the past, and to add more working households to the tenant base. Participants in the study suggested that housing associations are actually using ' refurbishing Poles' to redecorate and improve flats that are in poor condition (at their own expense). However, the researchers found that some housing associations were employing 'specific workers,' (presumably with proficiency in relevant languages), having tenancy agreements translated into A8 languages and organising open days for A8 nationals ( ibid:337).

Evidence to the Scottish Parliament Equal Opportunities Committee (2010) also highlights concerns about the poor standards of accommodation in which many migrants live, and 'a number of studies which report poor quality accommodation and problems which include high rents and deposits, poor cleanlineness, lack of furnishings and overcrowding.'

'Last week we found eight people [migrants] living in a one bedroom flat at the back of a house. The windows were broken. There was a gas fire that had to be cut off because it had yellow flames and it was clearly poisoning everybody in the flat, and the flat was infested by cockroaches. There were children in the household as well.' Anne Lear, Govanhill Housing Association (2010:para 335).

Migrants working in the construction industry

There is little recent evidence on migrant contributions to the construction industry. An IPPR report by Chappell et al in 2008 investigated the role of migrant workers in UK construction. Published in December 2008, the research captures the economic downturn, although the work was too early to examine the full impact of global recession, and the study's usefulness is likely to be limited as a result. The report emphasised the important role played by migrants in the construction industry, filling employment gaps in an industry that is 'naturally itinerant' ('Workers have always moved to where the work is, because the work moves around') (2008:6). The authors conclude that increased mobility can be viewed as an opportunity, resulting in greater economic dynamism for the industry and the consumer, although this depends on appropriate training structures within UK construction, and Government ensuring fair competition within labour markets by tackling exploitative employers ( ibid:6).

Chapter 3 of this review included the policy brief by Springford (2013) on the costs and benefits of Britain's membership of the EU. Springford's work, using LFS data from 2004-12, found that a higher proportion of A8 national work in skilled trades (especially construction) than people born in the UK (see Chapter 3, Chart 3.1). The work also examined demographic change in the UK labour market and the sectors where workers will be most needed to replace 'baby boom generation' retirees. 'Skilled trades' is one area where the author's research indicates demand for workers to replace retirees will be strong (2013:6).

The 2016 Scottish Government analysis of migrant characteristics includes a specific focus on the construction industry. This work found that 6 per cent of recent, and 5 per cent of established, EEA migrants in employment were working in construction at the time of the 2011 Census. Percentages were lower for non- EEA migrants (2 per cent for recent and 4 per cent for established migrants) (2015b:29). Nine per cent of the Scotland-born population and 5 per cent of people born in the rest of the UK (in employment) were working in the construction industry (2016a:25).


Key points

  • The majority of evidence on migrants' use of education services is at the UK level. The main focus of research has been the impact of recent migration, particularly from Eastern Europe, on schools in the UK.
  • Data limitations have restricted the scope, scale and robustness of the research, although in Scotland, at least, the way data are collected and reported has been improved in recent years.
  • The needs of some migrant pupils place additional demands on schools (translation and interpreting services, for example). However, there is some evidence that pupil performance among English-speaking pupils is positively correlated with the presence of pupils who do not have English as a first language.
  • In Scotland, approximately 10 per cent of migrants in employment are working in the education sector, compared with 8 per cent of people born in Scotland.

The Rolfe and Metcalf review noted that 'little research has been carried out on the impact of migration on education and schools services in Scotland' and that 'with regard to education, analyses of impact have relied on statistical data, while recognising its problems and limitations' (2009: para 4.24).

The paper which focuses on problems in the evidence base (Blinder et al, 2011) claims that there is limited information on the number of migrants' children in UK schools, because enrolment data do not record nationality, country of birth or migration status. The authors state that 'in Scotland, unlike England, data are not collected on the number of children receiving support for learning English as an Additional Language. Consequently, much of the debate is based on anecdotal evidence provided by service providers and other stakeholders' (2011:10). However, this statement no longer holds true. Data on pupils with English as an additional langauge ( EAL) are published in the annual Pupil Census, and have been since 2006, when just 360 pupils with EAL needs were recorded. By 2015, the number was 22,000 [19] .

In Scotland, a number of localised, qualitative studies offer valuable insights and some evidence on the impact of migration on education services. It should be noted that findings are likely to be place- and context-specific, and therefore do not represent the impact of migration on education services in Scotland as a whole; however, information is included and discussed in the section below where findings are relevant.

At the UK level, the George et al (2011) study that fed into the MAC Analysis of the Impacts of Migration concludes that research on education has focused on three main issues. Although some of the studies included in the work by George et al are now more than ten years old, the key findings and the typology are still relevant. Current evidence relating to each of the three issues identified by George et al is summarised, briefly, below.

A possible increase in pupil numbers resulting from migration

The main focus of research has been the impact of recent migration (particularly from Eastern Europe). A number of studies have sought to estimate the number of migrants in UK schools, but have encountered problems in identifying migrant children from the data. Data on school capacity indicate that many schools are under-subscribed and would benefit from an increase in applications, including from migrant families. However, undersubscribed schools may not be in areas where migrants live. George et al note that some reports argue that the impact of migration on schools, particularly A8 migration, has been limited because many migrants are young and single, or come to the UK alone rather than with families. However, the impact of migration is expected to increase as migrants settle permanently and, with additional dependents, make demands on the infrastructure associated with population growth (2011:20).

The demands and benefits of migration for schools

George et al report that a number of studies have described the additional demands on schools arising from the needs of some migrant pupils. They summarise requirements leading to higher costs of education provision as including: translation and interpreting services, numeracy and literacy of young children who have not received formal education, understanding of cultural differences by staff, and lack of records and assessment (2011:20). It is not clear from the research quoted by the authors whether these are additional significant pressures that many schools are unable to meet, light pressures from a handful of children at a few schools, or something in between. However, the authors quote some specific examples, including an estimate by Edinburgh City Council from 2008 that the cost of an English as an Additional Language teacher to provide support to 50 pupils was approximately £33,000 per annum ( ibid:21).

George et al make the point that research on education impacts of migration 'rarely distinguishes between groups of migrants and sometimes makes assumptions that all migrants have similar needs.' However, they suggest that the children of Tier 1 and Tier 2 migrants would be 'unlikely to require assistance with translation and interpreting because, in many cases, they originate from countries where English is the official language'.

Statistical data on performance, and individual research studies suggest that school performance and pupil achievement may be enhanced by migration. Pupil performance among English-speaking pupils appeared to be positively correlated with the presence of pupils with English as an additional language. However, the authors note that 'the causal mechanism is unclear' (2011:20-22).

In Scotland, the study Evidencing the social and cultural benefits and costs of migration (Kay and Morrison, 2012) examined the localised impacts of migration in Glasgow. Based on semi-structured interviews with more than 20 stakeholders from a range of organisations and services, and a facilitated workshop, the study found that migrants had had a number of positive effects on schools and education services in study areas. Summarising their findings, the researchers report that ' as well as the development of international links, opportunities for intercultural learning and extracurricular activities, there were felt to be advantages and benefits relating more broadly to teaching practice and schools' openness to learning from one another, and from the experience developed in specialist support units' (2012:8).

Although Kay and Morrison's study did not focus on specific migrant groups, what little research that exists on the impact of migration on education services in Scotland has tended to focus on migrants from the A8 countries and, in particular, on Polish migrant groups. Studies have highlighted the effect that the demand for language support has placed on services for children and their parents.

Research by Moskal (2016a) focused on the experience of Polish migrant children in schools in Scotland. The research combined ethnographic observation and interviewing techniques to examine the extent to which schooling practices in Scotland are, or are not, being adapted to meet the needs of migrant children. Moskal interviewed young people and their parents/carers, as well as teachers, school managers and principals from primary and secondary schools in different parts of Scotland (urban and semi-urban centres and rural towns).

The study found evidence of increased demand for English language tuition to enable Polish pupils to access the school curricula. While some schools were able to provide interpreters for parents who lacked English language skills, others were not able to prioritise the resources to do so, often leaving migrant children to act as facilitators in processes of settlement and community building. Teachers in the schools surveyed raised concerns about the lack of specialist in-school language support available. In some schools, classroom teachers and those specifically appointed as language assistants also expressed concerns about the lack of appropriate training they had received. Moskal's study concludes that 'language may constitute a barrier to the equitable benefits of education' (2016b:99).

Although the studies above offer valuable insights and contribute to our understanding of the impact of migrants and migration on primary and secondary education services in Scotland, overall, the evidence base is limited. There are no recent quantitative studies to offer robust data at a national level, and the qualitative studies discussed focus on specific migrant groups and/or particular locations. Given these caveats, the studies should be considered as illustrative rather than representative of the impact of migration on education services in Scotland.

The response of schools to migration

The ways in which schools are able to respond to the arrival of migrant children may be of crucial importance to the achievements of both migrant and non-migrant pupils. The arrival of migrant children within the school year, once resources have been allocated to schools, and the effect of transient life-styles among some migrants, resulting in 'churn' among the pupil population has been identified as a problem for some schools. George et al found that a number of studies have pointed out that pupil mobility has impacts which are different from those of migrant entry to schools, although these studies come from the early 2000s and/or relate to specific areas of England. The relationship between the number of migrants in schools and performance is not clear. The authors point out that schools receiving the highest numbers of migrant children are in some of the most deprived areas and also already experience high levels of churn, so it is not possible to determine whether, or how far, migration is having any additional impact (2011:22-24).

Migrants working in the education sector

This review has been unable to find any research that focuses on migrants as providers of education services. The work by Springford (2013) which examined the occupations of migrants in the UK does not disaggregate between 'health, education, fire, police and military.' However, the 2016 analysis of 2011 Census data by the Scottish Government found that approximately one in ten people in employment in each of the population groups was working in the education sector. However, this percentage was lower for recent EEA migrants (6 per cent). See Table 4.3.

Table 4.3: Sector of employment - Education - Scotland-born and all migrants aged 16 to 74 in employment

Born in Scotland
Born in rest of UK
EEA recent
EEA established
Non- EEA recent
Non- EEA established
Education 8 11 6 12 9 11

Source: Taken from Scotland's Census 2011 - NRS: Table AT_084b_2011.

Crime and justice services

Key points

  • The evidence base on the relationship between migration and crime/justice has been strengthened in recent years, although research relates to the UK as a whole, rather than Scotland.
  • Where evidence of criminal activity exists in relation to migrants, it is generally consistent with the standard economic model of crime: strong labour market attachment tends to be associated with lower levels of criminal activity.
  • Models of individual crime participation tend to show that migrants are less likely to commit crime than observably similar people born in the UK.
  • Migrants appear to be less likely to be victims of crime than people born in the UK although, as time in the UK increases, migrant experience tends to align with that of people born in the UK.

The relationship between migrants and crime, and the impact of migration on justice services, had received relatively little academic attention at the time of the Rolfe and Metcalf review in 2009. This evidence gap was noted by the authors, although they acknowledged that criminal activity by migrants has been 'an area of much speculation and anecdote' (2009:para 4.65). The Rolfe and Metcalf review noted the two perspectives that need to be addressed when examining the relationship between migration and crime/justice: the contribution of migrants to criminal activity; and criminal activity perpetrated against migrants. The authors found little robust evidence concerning the impact of migration on crime, particularly in relation to migrants as offenders (2009:para 4.62).

In the following section, the two perspectives will be considered in turn. In general, this is an area where the evidence base has been strengthened in the past few years, although research is all at the UK-level.

Criminal activity by migrants

UK-level MAC research on the impacts of migration (2012) includes a section on the impact of migration on crime. Drawing on commissioned research by Bell and Machin, the MAC report found that there was 'no statistically significant relationship between recent inflows of skilled migrants and violent crime per capita. Recent inflows of skilled migrants were found to have lowered the rate of property crime per head because these migrants are less likely to commit property crime than the average UK-born individual: a one per cent increase in the proportion of the UK population that are work permit or Tier 2 migrants was estimated to lead to an approximate 0.1 per cent fall in the per capita rate of property crime (for the whole UK population, including migrants' (2012:82).

In their report for the MAC, Bell and Machin (2011) include a review of the empirical literature on crime and victimisation. The authors argue that the more convincing studies show 'little consistent relationship between crime and migration' with most studies finding small and insignificant effects. Where it was possible to disaggregate between groups of migrants, they found that those with poor labour market opportunities were more likely to be associated with property crime. The authors also found that models of individual crime participation tend to show that migrants are less likely to commit crime than observably similar people born in the UK (2011:5).

The 2011 study by Bell and Machin focused on migrants from A8 accession countries as well as the Tier 2 migrants who were of primary interest to the MAC. In both migrant groups, the researchers found 'no evidence of any link between migration and violent crime.' In addition, findings indicated that rising shares of A8 or work permit and Tier 2 migrants in an area were associated with ' reduced property crime rates.' The authors interpreted these results as consistent with the economic model of crime, since migrants in both groups had 'strong labour market attachment' (2011:6).

In a Migration Observatory Briefing in 2013, Bell and Machin further investigated the impact of migration on crime in the UK, using Home Office and Police Force data on arrest. As the authors point out, one potential problem in exploring links between migration and crime is that a series of factors might lead to migrants having higher or lower arrest/conviction rates than the UK-born, even if they commit crimes at the same rate. For example, migrants may commit crimes that are easier (or harder) to detect, or police could allocate more (or less) resources to catching migrant offenders, or courts could be more (or less) likely to convict migrants (2013:3).

Bearing these caveats in mind, findings support the 2011 study in that they indicate a negative correlation between the level of property crime and the 'foreign-born share of the population' for the whole of the period under investigation (1983-2011). However, the authors acknowledge that correlation is not the same as causation, and that 'more detailed studies across a range of countries do not find evidence that the rise in migration caused the crime rate to drop' ( ibid:4).

Bell and colleagues Fasani and Machin also examined the empirical connections between crime and migration in a 2013 paper. They studied recent groups of in-migrants to the UK, including the post-2004 inflow from EU accession countries. The findings support the standard economic model of crime: that the labour market opportunities on offer in the receiving country are a key determinant of criminal behaviour. As in the other studies reported, the increase in A8 migrant population was associated with a small negative impact on property crime and no significant change in violent crime (2013:1282).

The body of work by Bell and colleagues has also addressed the issue of rates of imprisonment for migrants which, across OECD countries, generally show that those who are not born in the country are 'disproportionately likely to be in prison relative to natives' (Bell and Machin, 2011:6). The authors speculate that this could be because migrants are 'discriminated against at various points in the criminal justice system,' or may commit 'more serious offences with longer prison sentences,' or be associated with types of crime that are given 'greater focus by the criminal justice system' (2011:42/43). However, they acknowledge that data on prison populations 'tends to be quite poor across countries,' necessarily limiting the sensitivity of potential analysis ( ibid:43). Because of this, such hypotheses need to be investigated more thoroughly.

This review found no academic papers relating specifically to migrants in Scotland and criminal activity. However, experts gave evidence to the Scottish Parliament Equal Opportunities Committee on the extent and impact of migration upon crime in Scotland (2010).

  • ' There was a consensus amongst the witnesses that migration had little, if any, impact on policing. It was also suggested by Assistant Chief Constable Ruaraidh Nicolson of ACPOS that there was limited evidence of migrants coming to Scotland and becoming involved in criminal activity' (2010: para 353)
  • Where there had been an impact on policing, this was in relation to 'the provision of interpreting and translation services' (2010: para 354)
  • ACPOS reported that it had seen a three-fold increase in the cost of these services 'in recent years,' but that it was 'a very small cost in the overall policing budget' (2010: para 356).

Criminal activity perpetrated against migrants

The literature review conducted by Bell and Machin as part of their study for MAC (2011) found little current evidence as to whether migrants are more or less likely to be victims of crime than people born in the UK. The authors highlight that the evidence that exists uses self-reported rates of victimisation or victim reports from the policy, and a consequent problem may exist if migrants have different reporting rates from people born in the UK (2011:39). They noted evidence across countries suggests that 'violence against migrants is more likely in poor areas in which immigrants have rapidly become a substantial and visible minority in previously homogenous communities' ( ibid:41).

Bell and Machin used data from the British Crime Survey (2005-06 and 2009-10, England and Wales only) and the Offending, Crime and Justice Survey (2003) to explore the extent of victimisation among both migrants and people born in the UK. They found that migrants appeared to be less likely to report being victims of crime than people born in the UK, although this changes 'rapidly' as time in the UK increases. For those migrants who had been in the UK for at least ten years, there was no significant difference between their reported experiences of crime and that of people born in the UK (2011:60-61). Naturally, since the data rely on self-report, it is difficult to tell whether migrants who have been in the UK for longer are more likely to be victims of crime or more likely to report crimes against them.

The authors also provide evidence on the importance of neighbourhood effects for crime. In neighbourhoods with higher shares of migrants in the local population, there was lower reported crime and self-reported victimisation than similar neighbourhoods with lower migration densities, indicating that concentrations of migrant populations 'appear to provide some measure of protection from crime' (2011:8).

Evidence to the Scottish Parliament Equal Opportunities Committee (2010) included a focus on the importance of gaining trust in the police to make it easier for migrants to report crimes against them.

' We have concerns about the level of the reporting of crimes against members of that community [migrants], especially with regard to hate crimes or race-related offences that involve people being subject to abuse in the workplace or where they live … We are not saying that there is a vast amount of crime being committed against migrant workers - there is nothing to indicate that there is - but we want to ensure that we are providing the appropriate mechanisms by which crimes can be reported' (2010: para 360) Inspector Brian Gibson, Strathclyde Police.

Police reported to the Commission that they saw language as a vital ingredient in establishing links and encouraging engagement with migrants. For example, Strathclyde Police had encouraged officers to participate in English language classes as part of their day to day business (2010: para 364). (See also below: Chapter 5.)

Migrant workers in the crime and justice sector

As with education, this review was unable to find any research focusing on migrants working in crime and justice. The work by Springford (2013) which examined the occupations of migrants in the UK does not disaggregate between 'health, education, fire, police and military.' However, it is unlikely that large numbers of migrants in Scotland are employed in this sector. The analysis of 2011 Census data by Scottish Government (2016a) found that between 2 and 6 per cent of EEA and non- EEA migrants (recent and established) were working in 'public administration and defence,' which includes a number of categories in addition to justice and judicial activities, and public order and safety. This compares with 7 per cent of the Scottish born population and 9 per cent of people born in the rest of the UK, who were in employment (2016a:25).


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