Lunchtime news, October 17

The lead story in the latest LPW magazine (out next week) has hit the headlines today with mentions on GMTV, Sky News and the Channel 4 website as well as the front page of the London Metro. More than one million people are using high-interest credit cards to cover their mortgage or rent payments, the reports say, along with the LPW finding that, in some parts of the country, nearly one in ten householders was using a credit card in this way, and building up unsustainable levels of debt. Among the worst culprits were 18 to 24-year-olds, and people who found they had no means of escape from high mortgage payments.

Immigration continues to grab media attention following the publication of a report from an Oxford academic which claims Labour’s ‘open door’ policy on immigration costs every household £350 a year. David Coleman puts the total annual bill to the taxpayer at almost £8.8 billion. In a submission to a House of Lords committee, he said there had been an ‘absent-minded commitment’ to increase the population by one million every five years.

But Home Office research paints a different picture. Migrants work harder, earn more and pay more tax than Britons, it says. Migrant workers contributed £6 billion to the country’s economic growth last year and earned higher wages than their British counterparts. The study concluded that new arrivals brought sought-after skills and paid more in tax than they used in public services. The population rose by 189,000 last year, with 574,000 migrants arriving and 385,000 people leaving. But the Government figures suggested migration was throwing a life-line to an economy suffering skills shortages and struggling to support a growing bill for pensions. It was calculated that new migration accounted for about one-sixth of Britain’s economic growth, equivalent to £6 billion last year.