Just 15% of Britons think Government manages immigration well

Only 13% trusted MPs to tell the truth on the issue.
Only 13% trusted MPs to tell the truth on the issue.
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Only 15% of Britons think the government has managed the immigration system competently, according to new research.

A consultation with almost 20,000 people across the country found just 17% trusted the government to tell the truth about the reality of immigration.

Even fewer - 13% - trusted MPs to tell the truth on the issue.

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The research was conducted by thinktank British Future, and anti-racism and anti-extremism charity Hope not Hate, through 130 meetings with communities in 60 locations around the UK.

They also gathered data through an online survey and opinion polling conducted by ICM Research.

The report - the National Conversation on Immigration - was published ahead of the Migration Advisory Committee's report on immigration on Tuesday.

Its authors are now urging the government to use Brexit as an opportunity to rebuild trust in the immigration system.

The report makes 40 recommendations for the future of immigration policy including greater resources for the Home Office to deliver its goals and a mandatory registration system and Canadian-style criminal vetting for future migration from the EU.

The authors all call for an annual "Migration Day" in parliament where ministers are held accountable for their performance against a three-year immigration strategy - replacing the net migration target.

They also want the government to start engaging directly with the public through an official National Conversation on Immigration run by the publicly funded Migration Advisory Committee.

A spokesman for British Future said participants were asked about the level of trust in the government to manage immigration.

But he added distrust has been building for 15 years following previous governments' failure to predict the large amount of migration from recent entrants to the EU such as Poland and Romania.

Despite the low levels of trust in the present government's ability to manage immigration, it found the majority of those involved held a more balanced view on the issue than is reflected in the media.

Dubbed "balancers", these respondents felt immigration brings economic and cultural gains to the UK, but also worry about control, fairness and pressures on public services.

The research found 65% of people thought migrants bring valuable skills for the economy and public services such as the NHS, while 59% believed diversity is a good thing for British culture.

A further 61% of people believed it is better for migrants to commit to remaining in the UK and to integrate, rather than coming to work for a few years before returning to their country of origin.

On the other hand, 52% of respondents said public services are under strain as a result of immigration, and a further 52% believed migrants are willing to work for less - putting jobs at risk and lowering wages.

Rosie Carter, of Hope not Hate and the report's co-author, said: "Immigration is a national issue, but people see it through a local lens.

"Where people live, and their living conditions, makes a real difference - that includes the perceived impact of migration on their community, broader grievances about economic insecurity and levels of contact with migrants and ethnic minorities too.

"An official National Conversation on Immigration would give people a chance to express their concerns in a constructive debate, so anxieties are not driven underground or exploited by those seeking to stoke division."

A Home Office spokesman said: "We are committed to bringing net migration down to sustainable levels. There is no consent in Britain for uncontrolled immigration.

"After we leave the EU we will end free movement, take back control of our borders and put in place an immigration system which works in the best interests of the UK.

"We are considering a range of options that will ensure we are in control of our borders and managing migration, while continuing to attract and retain people who come here to work and bring significant benefits."