Integration or differentiation? Ponderings of an economic migrant

Integration or differentiation? Ponderings of an economic migrant


Written by: IRR News Team, IRR News Team

Scott Poynting, an Australian who teaches at Manchester Metropolitan University, reflects on the UK’s attitudes to ‘foreign’ workers.

Listening to the BBC News last night (yes, immigrants pay the licence fee, too), I was surprised to hear about the £50 levy on non-EU migrants and students for all the drain that we supposedly cause on public services as ‘economic migrants’. Getting over my surprise, I reflected that I am indeed quite ‘economic’. My education and my childhood health, all those unproductive, non-surplus value producing, non-taxpaying years, have been paid for by another country. Here I am, magically and costlessly available, contributing to the UK ‘economy’.

Stamped into my passport, with my UK Entry Clearance (for which I paid £85) that notes my five-year work permit, is the condition ‘no recourse to public funds’. That would seem to be fairly clear. How then, am I a drain on public services? I pay taxes which contribute rightly to the ‘recourse to public funds’ of other British residents. My taxes pay for councils, health, education and police – all the things which

Scott Poynting is a professor of sociology at Manchester Metropolitan University and co-author of Bin Laden in the suburbs: criminalizing the Arab Other (2004).

The Institute of Race Relations is precluded from expressing a corporate view: any opinions expressed are therefore those of the authors.

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