As the debate over the recent EU referendum continues following the momentous decision of the UK to vote for Brexit, a new survey has provided an intriguing impression of UK attitudes to immigration.
Two-thirds of British people believe that migration has had a negative impact on the NHS, despite the argument often made that such migrant workers make a massive contribution to the health service.
The 2015 British Social Attitudes Survey also found 71% of the 4,328 people polled believed that immigration had increased pressure on schools.
Researchers found that there is something of a generational, educational and class-driven divide on the subject, with radically different results for various socio-economic groups noticeable.
However, the increasing concern about the economic and cultural consequences of migration appears to have increased in recent years, with the state of the economy possibly the primary cause of this attitude shift.
While many workers from overseas are resident in the NHS, it can also be argued that treating migrants places and undue strain on the service.
The British Social Attitudes survey is conducted by the independent not-for-profit organisation NatCen, with the first survey having been carried out in 1983.
And Prof John Curtice, senior research fellow at NatCen, reflected that future parliaments and governments will play a key role in shaping attitudes on this subject.
“Even during a period where the public appeared less concerned about the economic and cultural consequences of immigration, substantial majorities still said that migrants were having a net negative effect on British schools and the NHS. It would appear that assuaging this concern will be a key priority for the next prime minister as the government tries to meet the concerns about immigration that were evident during the EU referendum.”
Migration was considered a key issue during the recent EU referendum, with the leave campaign in particular strongly focusing on the consequences of net migration.
And it seems that British social attitudes have significantly hardened on the subject in the immediate aftermath of the decision to Brexit the European Union.
The 2015 survey consisted of 4,328 interviews between 4 July and 2 November on a representative, random sample of adults in Britain with a response rate of 51%.
Researchers spoke to 2,167 people about their views on the impact of immigration on the economy and British cultural life.