Skip to content

The hidden cost of our hostile environment

Words: Paul Cadman

Much has been reported about the consequences of our hostile environment towards illegal immigration. Issues regarding the Windrush generation, foreign students and increasing post referendum racism are painting a bleak picture of a country I am proud of. Whilst the beleaguered Home Office is seen as the principal culprit, I think we have a significant unintended consequence that is currently harming our country at a time when we need to be addressing productivity and growth ready for our departure from the EU. When I talk to my business colleagues they tell me about the rise in interethnic tensions within the workplace and how they are damaging previously good working relationships and even output. Well-meaning managers are often ill equipped to deal with such tensions and perhaps years of brushing issues under the carpet has left the tinder dangerously dry.

I tried to work out what the impact of rising conflict in the workplace had on business productivity and it is at least 5% across all businesses in the region. That means that the hostile environment towards illegal immigration is costing the Black Country at least £1 billion a year in lost productivity. For the whole UK, this figure could be £25 billion every year. Just think how many roads, schools and hospitals this money could buy.

As a region we cannot afford this loss. As a nation shortly to be set free to trade with the wider world, our perceived hostility will not be conducive to trade. Furthermore, we are becoming increasingly unpopular as a destination for foreign students. Rising racist attacks apparently sanctioned by the hostile environment and Brexit sentiment do nothing for our reputation as a nation welcoming of talent and skill. The impact of this hostility would be somewhat lessened if we were not completely dependent on foreign skilled workers. I hate to think what will happen to our economy and our ability to trade if this pool of talent dries up as a consequence of government policy on controlling illegal immigration.

Illegal immigration needs to be stamped out, but this means addressing trafficking and border controls not tarring legitimate immigrants, including refugees and asylum seekers, with the same hostile brush.

Our success in the global economy, now that we are free to become masters of our own destiny, depends on how welcoming we are to business leaders and talent from all parts of the world. It has been the source of our success in the past and it will be in the future. If business across the world want to trade with us because they like us, any post Brexit economic deficit heralded by doomsayers will never take place. Please join with me and raise this issue with your MP and Mayor.


Downtown in Business

BID’s Safety Partnership wins National approval

Liverpool’s Business Crime Reduction Partnership has been awarded a National Standards Accreditation. Designed to make city centres safer for businesses and employees, there are over 250 Business Crime Reduction Partnerships in the UK. The national standards accreditation provides a benchmark to their achievement and success.

Read More


Bruntwood SciTech has announced a new letting at Alderley Park to global scientific manufacturer Leco, at its science and technology campus, Alderley Park.

The US-based scientific instruments manufacturer is relocating its UK headquarters and will be launching a new UK Training Centre as part of the move. The Bruntwood built facility will offer their customers the opportunity for skilled development in its demo lab – located adjacent to their workspace, reaffirming its commitment to empowering customers through education and practical training.

Read More

Counties need to get real on Mayors

The group chair and chief executive of Downtown in Business, Frank McKenna, has called on political and business leaders in Lancashire and Cheshire to urgently progress discussions about devolution and elected mayors – or risk being left behind in the new Labour governments dash for growth.

Read More