Most people in Ipswich take a ‘balanced’ view on immigration, according to the first-ever detailed research on public attitudes in the town on this issue. Majorities in three research groups said that migrants made a contribution to the economy but voiced concerns about numbers and the pace of change in parts of Ipswich, as well as the draw of benefits and pressures on public services.
Just over half of both Ipswich citizens’ panels wanted to keep levels of migration about the same for all groups of migrants after Britain leaves the EU, including low-skilled and seasonal workers. Yet the groups did raise concerns about immigration numbers, with some support for an Australian-style points-based immigration system.
Suggestions on EU migration after Brexit included requiring EU migrants to have a job or find a job soon after arrival, as well as being obliged to learn English.
Panellists also raised concerns about effective border controls and undocumented migration – though like many Britons, they were unwilling to pay more taxes in order to strengthen border controls.
People also expressed sympathy for refugees and asylum-seekers, particularly young children, but had concerns about the effectiveness of the asylum system, the integration of new arrivals, and ensuring that Britain wasn’t taking more than its fair share of refugees.
The findings of the National Conversation feed into the Immigration Inquiry run by the House of Commons Home Affairs Committee, providing an opportunity for members of the public to have their say on immigration policy after Brexit in a way that will be heard by decision-makers.