Migration is still a major challenge for councils

Posted on Saturday 2nd August 2008

Migration is still a major challenge for councils says an Institute of Local Government Studies (INLOGOV) report published today.

Researchers at the University of Birmingham have called for a serious rethink on how councils deal with the issue of migration and have identified ten lessons for local government.

Stephen Jeffares, one of the authors, says: “Local authorities must develop new and innovative ways of responding to migration, including participation by migrant communities in decision-making.”

The report, funded by the ESRC and co-authored with the University of the West of England, analyses the strategies of Birmingham, Copenhagen and Rotterdam city councils.

In it, experts warn that councils lack a clear understanding of different types of migrants and the nature of migrant communities.  The enlargement of the EU has created new forms of migration, for which councils must be prepared.  Building strong relationships with existing migrants can provide insights into current needs and future changes.

The report reveals the positive economic effects of migration.  It points to research by West Midlands and Rotterdam local councils showing that migrants bring entrepreneurial skills and help fill local labour shortages.  The report encourages councils to promote the value of migration as a way of overcoming stereotypes about migrants as a drain on local resources.

Bringing together three different approaches to the issues surrounding migration has provided valuable insight says Jeffares: “The three councils studied have managed their migration policies in different ways.  Copenhagen has adopted an innovative approach, with direct elections by migrants to an advisory council. However, this has not been as successful as anticipated. 

“Birmingham has local city council leadership as well as being part of a sub-regional partnership with other councils, migrant organisations, and service providers.  Rotterdam has used independent experts to help them implement new policies and solve the problems that arise.  The report commends this experimentation, but says more could be done to share good practice.”

The report is available as a free download at www.inlogov.bham.ac.uk

ends

Note for editors:

Governance of Migration:  Strategies for European Cities, by Stephen Jeffares, Jenny Phillimore and Chris Skelcher is published by INLOGOV, University of Birmingham.

The report was commissioned by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC).

It was produced by a team from the University of Birmingham’s Institute of Local Government Studies (INLOGOV) and Centre for Urban and Regional Studies (CURS), and UWE - the University of the West of England’s Cities Research Centre.

Further Media Information:

Dr Stephen Jeffares, University of Birmingham, is available for interview. Please call:  07791 437456