Magazine article Public Finance

Blears Says No to Migration Contingency Fund

Magazine article Public Finance

Blears Says No to Migration Contingency Fund

Article excerpt

Local Government Secretary Hazel Blears said this week that councils were vital in managing the impact of immigration on communities - but she rejected calls for a contingency fund for town halls.

Speaking to MPs on April 22, Blears said that Local Strategic Partnerships, led by councils, were best placed to manage the effects of immigration on cohesion. But other funding streams were a better approach to supporting local areas. These include the £50m cohesion fund and a possible 'transitional impact fund', as suggested in the recent Home Office citizenship green paper. Under this, migrants would pay higher application fees if they or their dependants were likely to be heavy users of public services.

The Local Government Association has made repeated calls for a £250m fund to help areas most under pressure from immigration.

'What's important is to improve the data and make sure that when we do the next three-year settlement and the next Comprehensive Spending Review we get that embedded in mainstream public services, because this change is going to be with us for some time to come,' she added.

Blears said the overall level of community cohesion in Britain was extremely good' but the 'scale and pace of change' meant people were feeling the impact. Local areas were affected in different ways, she added. She pointed to the high numbers of European migrant workers in Boston, Lincolnshire, compared with the arrival of large African families in Haringey, north London. …

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