UK immigrants make up quarter of country’s top earners

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Comments by Sanwar Ali:

That is excellent news with many migrants doing very well in the UK.  There are at the same time many concerns about the way that migrants and especially those from BAME (black, Asian and minority ethnic) groups are treated.  A recent report has also found that the "Hostile Environment" policy has resulted in racism and poverty.  Some migrants do extremely well, while there are others that feel discriminated against and suffer financial hardship.

The Equality and Human Rights Commission does not have the time and resources to look into most cases of discrimination that are referred to them.  One thing that is very surprising is that there are no black commissioners in the Equality and Human Rights Commission.  David Isaac the chair resigned recently and had the following to say:

“I’ve been calling for lots of black and BAME people to apply so we as a commission look more like the people we seek to represent,”

“We put forward names but they [government] make the decision.”

New data shows that around a quarter of the UK’s top earners are immigrants. The lead author of the research says that the data dispels the idea that migrants are a drain on the British economy. According to the data, of the 525,000 people in the top 1% each earning more than £128,000 a year, 24% arrived in the UK as adults from overseas.

The research was conducted by academics at the University of Warwick, with lead author Arun Advani saying: “A lot of the worries about migrants is about the bottom end of the income distribution. However, migrants are hugely prevalent at the top of the income distribution – and therefore paying more tax.”

Migrants make up just 15% of the UK population and Advani, who is an assistant professor at the Warwick’s economics department and director of Cage, added that the research shows that migrants are even more prevalent in the ‘very well paid’ category.

Among the top 0.001% of UK-based earners, the research shows that four in 10 are immigrants. This is nearly three times as many that would be expected if incomes were distributed equally. In the lower income categories, just one in six is an immigrant, according to the data.

HMRC tax returns evidence of income

Prior to commencing the research, which has been compiled based on private HMRC tax returns, Advani suspected that migrants would be overrepresented among the UK highest earners because many overseas nationals tend to work in finance, medicine and technology. However, even he was shocked by just how big the imbalance was.

Advani, who is the son of migrants, said: “I was genuinely surprised, and we spent a long time convincing ourselves that we weren’t screwing it up. But we checked and triple-checked it and it was correct. The data has also been checked by officials at HMRC.”

“People may not think of ‘migrants’ as being rich. But if you stop and think who the wealthy people are hanging out in Mayfair, a lot of them are not UK-born. Or if you go to Canary Wharf [where many of the world’s biggest banks have their European headquarters] you will hear a lot of voices in [other] European languages because people come here for well-paying jobs,” Advani added.

According to the research, the number of migrants rising to the top-earner bracket of the income spectrum has been growing fast.

An excerpt from the research paper, titled Importing inequality: UK immigration and the Top 1%, reads: “There are 52% more migrants in the top 1% in 2018 than in 1997, and more than twice as many in the top 0.01%. Almost all [85%] of the growth in the UK top 1% income share over the past 20 years can be attributed to migration.”

Research important for possible wealth tax issues

Four in 10 of the best paid bankers in the UK are migrants, according to the data, earning an average of £383,000 before tax. Meanwhile, just under 40% of the highest paid people working in hospitals are migrants, earning an average of £160,000.

In ‘web portal’ work, 51% of the best-paid people are migrants, earning an average of £259,700. 31% of the top-paid people in professional sport are overseas nationals.

Advani argues that the research could be hugely important amid a debate among politicians over whether to introduce a ‘wealth tax’ on the highest earners to aid Britain’s recovery from the coronavirus pandemic.

The paper’s author fears that many of the UK’s top-earning immigrants would leave if such a tax were introduced. He said: “There are a lot of high performing international people here and if you make it very unattractive for them, people worry that they might leave.”

The research was undertaken at a highly secure facility operated by HMRC in Canary Wharf, where academics were given access to anonymised UK tax returns of millions of people. Researchers were able to establish which of the returns were those of migrants by analysing National Insurance (NI) numbers.

The NI numbers of migrants arriving in the UK as adults are different to those born in Britain. can help with Tier 2 Visa Sponsor Licence and Tier 2 Visa

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