Increasing immigration is essential if the government is to prevent
a crisis in the labour force and social care system within the next
20 years, Neil Kinnock warned delegates at the annual national
social services conference in Cardiff last week.
The former Labour leader launched an attack on the government’s
position on immigration, arguing that the UK had not been “swamped”
He said that, like many other European countries, it would
desperately need immigrants to bolster the number of people earning
and paying taxes in the years ahead.
Kinnock, now vice-president of the European Commission, said that
an ageing population and growing trend towards early retirement
would place extra pressures on the working population and on social
care services. He said that, by 2020, there would be only 183
working people for every 100 people in retirement, compared with
More immigration could also benefit the social care sector by
helping to provide a solution to the recruitment crisis.
But Kinnock warned that attracting people from developing nations
was a delicate “balancing act” that should not result in stripping
other countries of their talent.
He emphasised that greater immigration would not in itself be the
answer, and called on the UK to make greater efforts to stem early
retirement and address society’s attitude towards motherhood as
An expansion of child care provision and a reform of benefits would
allow more women to enter the labour market, resulting in fewer
households living in poverty, Kinnock said.
Statistics show that, while only 10 per cent of families where one
person is in employment live in poverty, this figure rises to 50
per cent in households where no one works.
Decreasing poverty levels by increasing employment opportunities
would also allow social services departments to concentrate on
families whose problems were not economic, such as disabled people,