Immigration in London is what has made our city great, what’s driven its cultural diversity and what makes it such a vibrant place to live.
34% of the population of London were born overseas. The LSE conducted a study in 2008/9 to determine an estimate of the number of irregular migrants living in London. They came back with a figure of about 450,000 – the equivalent of one and a half London boroughs. The Mayor has expressed the view that no city can afford to have such a large proportion of its residents living in the shadows, not being able to take jobs, pay taxes, and contribute to the civil society. I chair, together with the UKBA, the London Strategic Migration Partnership, a partnership that includes voluntary sector, London councils, businesses, NHS and the SERTUC. We have set ourselves a number of objectives to ensure the full and proper integration of migrants into London and its economy. The first objective is the learning of English- ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages)- on the simple premise that you cannot integrate if you do not speak the language.
You cannot properly avail yourself of health services, schooling for children, or any other aspect of civil life. It is estimated that £155,000,000 is spent on ESOL in London every year. Unfortunately, it is only the inputs that are measured, not the outputs. The second objective is to actually pull together the statistics and information that will help us determine how many migrants actually are living in London, legally and illegally, so that services and provision can be properly made and planned. It is further estimated that some 25% of the rough sleepers in London are from A8 countries, and we are working together with their embassies and the EU , together with voluntary organisations, to ensure their safe return, where appropriate, to their homeland.
I also led on the Euro Cities Charter on Integration, which was signed by some 140 European cities, Mayors and Deputy Mayors, to bring a uniform approach to the integration of migrants into the European Union.