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National Conversation on Immigration research finds shocking levels of public mistrust

Urgent action is needed to restore public trust on immigration, according to new research published today from the largest-ever public consultation on immigration, ahead of the Migration Advisory Committee’s immigration report on 18 September.

The new report from the National Conversation on Immigration, co-ordinated by think tank British Future and anti-prejudice campaigners HOPE not hate, consulted nearly 20,000 people across the UK, in face-to-face meetings and ICM polling.  The polling found that:

  • Only 15% of people feel the Government has managed immigration competently and fairly
  • Only 13% of people think MPs tell the truth about immigration
  • Just 17% trust the Government to tell the truth about immigration

Yet researchers also found a strong contrast between polarised online and media debates and the balanced views on immigration expressed by most people they spoke to. These ‘balancers’ feel that immigration brings economic and cultural gains to the UK but also worry about control, fairness and pressures on public services. The National Conversation found common concerns across the UK but also significant local differences, with people viewing immigration through a ‘local lens’.

The new report calls for an annual ‘Migration Day’ in Parliament, where ministers are held accountable for their performance against a three-year immigration strategy that replaces the net migration target. The report recommends that government should start rebuilding trust on immigration by engaging with the public through an official National Conversation on Immigration, run by the Migration Advisory Committee.

The National Conversation held over 130 meetings with citizens and stakeholders in 60 locations across every nation and region of the UK, as well as carrying out ICM polling and an open online survey, which was taken by nearly 10,000 people.  It found that the public wants the ability to hold the Government to account to deliver on immigration policy promises, as well as for it to be more transparent and initiate democratic engagement on the issue. Read the report and executive summary.