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The new Controlling Migration Fund for English local authorities

In November 2016 the Government launched a new ‘Controlling Migration Fund’ (CMF) for local authorities in England. A total of £140 million will be available over the four financial years from 2016-17 to 2019-20.

The Fund is split into two parts:

  • Local service impacts: £100m over four years, “to help English local authorities and their communities experiencing high and unexpected volumes of immigration to ease pressures on local services”. This part of the Fund is administered by the Department for Communities and Local Government.
  • Immigration compliance and enforcement: £40m over four years, “to direct enforcement action against people in the UK illegally in order to reduce the pressure on local areas” This part of the Fund is managed by the Home Office.

Local authorities in England can submit proposals for CMF funding. Central government can also direct CMF funding, such as in response to “strategic priorities … or unexpected emergencies”.

How is the Fund different to the old ‘Migration Impacts Fund’?

The Fund effectively replaces the ‘Migration Impacts Fund’ (MIF), which was launched by Labour in 2009 to assist local communities to manage the transitional impacts of migration on the provision of public services. The MIF was abolished by the Coalition Government in 2010, as a cost-saving measure.

The CMF’s total budget is the same as the MIF’s, and there have been criticisms that this is inadequate.

The CMF places a greater emphasis on immigration enforcement and compliance activities compared to the MIF. Also, it is only open to local authorities in England (unlike the MIF). In many other respects the CMF appears to have more in common with the MIF than other suggested models.

What alternative models have been proposed?

In recent years, think-tanks and policy commentators from across the political spectrum have backed the idea of an immigration impacts fund. Common suggestions include financing this through a levy on immigration applications or through immigrants’ tax contributions; devolving responsibility for funding decisions and priorities to local areas; and allowing money to be used to mitigate the effects of increased demand for public services and local infrastructure.

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