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Britons remain positive about impact of immigration

Perceptions over the impact immigration has had on Britain remains positive and stable compared with two years ago according to a new Ipsos MORI study for IMiX, the migration communications hub. The online survey of c.2,500 British adults is the latest in a unique longitudinal study which looks to track how individuals’ views on immigration and other values change over time. The latest survey finds that:

General attitudes towards immigration remain more positive than negative

Just under half (45%) say they’re positive about immigration’s impact on Britain while three in ten (31%) say they are negative (down 3 points). This remains stable after the increase in more positive immigration attitudes seen just after the EU referendum and is in line with other recent Ipsos MORI research.

Of those who say they’ve become more positive about immigration, half attribute it to there being more positive discussion about immigrants

  • One in five (21%) say they have become more positive or less worried about the impact immigration has on Britain. When we asked those who have become more positive or less worried why this is, half (51%) say it’s because the discussions over the past few years have highlighted how much immigrants contribute to the UK. A quarter (27%) say they personally know more people who are migrants either at work or socially while 24% say it’s because they believe fewer immigrants will come to the UK once Britain leaves the EU. And 14% say it’s because there are fewer immigrants coming to the UK now.

The proportion of people who want to see immigration reduced remains stable but there is support for a similar, or an increased number, of certain types of EU workers

  • The proportion of those who want to see immigration reduced also remains stable at around three in five (58%).
  • However, when asked about specific occupations only a minority of Britons want to see higher-skilled worker numbers from the EU reduced (13%) while the majority either want the numbers to stay the same (47%) or increased (31%). When it comes to lower-skilled workers the public are more split – 42% want their numbers reduced while a similar proportion want them to remain the same (40%) and one in ten (9%) want them to be increased.
  • The majority (57%) of Britons remain dissatisfied with how the government is dealing with immigration (just 11% are satisfied) which is down from 62% in April 2016.

Fewer people now believe immigrants take away jobs from Britons but views remain negative on the impact of immigration on some services

  • Fewer agree now than in 2016 that immigrants take jobs away from real Britons (30% – down 5 points) as well as fewer agreeing that immigrants take important welfare services away from real Britons (42% – down 5 points)
  • While close to half (47%) think immigration enriches the UK (24% disagree), two-thirds (68%), however, believe immigration puts pressure on public services and housing while 64% think immigrants too often don’t integrate and follow British customs.
  • People are split on whether immigration improves people’s standard of living (29% agree vs. 33% who disagree) as well as saying they have no problems with the way Britain’s population is changing (33% agree they have no problems while 36% disagree).

Other findings from the study show:

People have become more pessimistic about their outlook on life compared with two years ago and are showing a greater sense of nostalgia

  • Three in five (58%) say that for most people in Britain life is getting worse rather than better (up 9 points).
  • A quarter (27%) say that they’re finding it is much more difficult to get by on their household income (up 6 points) while less than a quarter (23%) think that they benefit from Britain’s economic growth (down 5 points).
  • Less than half (49%) say they’re always optimistic about their future (down 4 points) while a quarter (23%) say they’re not (up 4 points).
  • And nearly half (47%) say things in Britain were better in the past (up 5 points).

About the study

Ipsos MORI interviewed a representative sample of 2,520 British online adults aged 18+ between 17 December 2018 and 7 January 2019.  The study was funded by Unbound Philanthropy and the Barrow Cadbury Trust.  Interviews were conducted on Ipsos’ online panel and results have been weighted by demographic factors to represent the British population.