Towns and cities across Wales have “high migration clusters” putting pressure on essential services and social cohesion, according to a new report for the Home Office.
Cardiff, Ceredigion, Newport, Wrexham, Swansea and Pembrokeshire are all identified in the report as areas with “migration rates that are well above the national average”.
The report, Social and Public Service Impacts of International Migration at the Local Level, marks the first attempt by officials to study the impact of different types of migration in different parts of the country.
Cardiff is in a cluster of “urban areas, mainly large conurbations” with “high rates of African and Asian migration, child and international student migration, and a high proportion of supported asylum seekers”.
Ceredigion is identified within a group that “comprise student towns and coastal and semi-rural areas” with “high levels of churn, generally higher levels of international student migration but moderate migration of other migrants”.
Wrexham, Swansea and Newport are classed as asylum dispersal areas that “comprise mainly industrial towns characterised by low turnover, high proportions of supported asylum seekers, high worklessness and social housing levels.”
Pembrokeshire is described as a “migrant worker….countryside area” having “high levels of migration from the (new) EU accession countries“, but “below average levels of migration from other countries and lower turnover levels”.
Asylum dispersal areas like Newport, Swansea and Wrexham and migrant worker areas like Pembrokeshire “have had limited prior experience of large-scale migration”, according to the report.
“The presence of asylum seekers, refugees and low-skilled workers may therefore have more noticeable effects on social cohesion in these areas,” the report concludes.
It also suggests the impact of asylum seekers and refugees on health and social services is likely to be greater in Wrexham, Newport, Swansea and Cardiff because of their “high numbers of supported asylum seekers”.
However ares like Cardiff may have a longer history of dealing with the needs of migrant groups and are therefore better able to adapt to, receive and support new arrivals, the report adds.
Pressure on housing is likely to be concentrated in the private rented sector, where most new migrants live. It will be felt most keenly in migrant worker town and countryside areas like Pembrokeshire.
The report suggests areas like Pembrokeshire “may experience a greater impact from recent new arrivals due to the new influx of population’s high impact relative to the pre-existing levels and low population density (since these areas are predominantly rural).
“This combination of high volumes of new migrants in an area with little previous experience of receiving migrants appears to give rise to greater challenges and potential tensions.”
In Ceredigion the impact of migration may be less noticeable because the area has higher than average inflows of students and skilled workers from long-standing EU countries who make less impact on services.
But the reports adds this “does not mean there is not pressure on services caused by very large numbers of such migrants”.
On the other hand migration in areas of “rural and coastal retirement” like the North Wales coast and Powys may be of benefit because families and children might help to keep rural schools open, while foreign workers can make a valuable contribution to the economy.
Overall the report found 2% of the UK’s non-British population lives in Wales, with 5% in Scotland, 2% in Northern Ireland and 91% in England.