Many Britons say UK is hurt by immigration

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The majority of people in Britain believe that immigration is hurting the UK, a major study on the subject has found.

One in six feels that immigration has brought benefit to the country, while 60 per cent feel it has caused more disadvantages than advantages to Britain, with just 17 per cent believing the opposite.

The findings, published in the Sunday Times, come from a poll of more than 20,000 people by the former Conservative party deputy chairman, Lord Ashcroft.

His research revealed a complex public response to immigration, with many deeply concerned about the perceived problems it causes but also intolerant of racism and appreciative of the benefits immigrants can bring.

A major concern was the economy, with 77 per cent believing a dramatic reduction in immigration would reduce pressure on public services and welfare, making it easier for British people to find jobs. Just 23 per cent felt it would harm the economy.

A further 62 per cent said their biggest concern about immigration was foreign nationals claiming benefits and using public services, while just over a third said they or a relative had been denied housing or other public services apparently because of competition from immigrants.

But almost half – 49 per cent – of those polled felt that immigrants often took on jobs that British people were unwilling to do.

In the report, which is released today, Lord Ashcroft says the public have a poor view of politicians’ understanding about their concerns.

He said: “Many feel that over the past 15 years immigration has been allowed to happen on a scale we cannot cope with, and without public consent being sought or given.”