Updated: Sep 10
Too often newly arrived individuals in the UK are shone under a negative light; that they arrive here to ‘take the nation’s jobs’ or ‘take advantage of the system’, when this could not be further from the truth.
Individuals who face displacement arrive for various reasons; whether it be to seek asylum in the UK away from the horrors occurring in their home countries, or simply for work and education. Approximately, 14% of current UK residents are displaced individuals and despite current media portrayal, roughly only 6% of long-term immigration is due to seeking asylum, with the remaining majority being attributed to seeking employment and education.
Migrating to a different country comes with its own unique set of problems and growing pains; however, what often catches us off guard is just how powerful language is in these situations. Referring to individuals as asylum seekers or even refugees can be incredibly isolating and ‘othering’; it can leave these members of our communities feeling left out and struggling to settle in. Ensuring that communities are welcoming and open-minded allows for everyone to feel comfortable in their environment and thus be able to spread their wings and explore new entrepreneurial aspirations.
Displaced individuals have helped shape our communities to the form they are in now and in this article we will dive deeper into just how they have done this. Some of your favourite takeaway services and even grocery stores, such as Marks and Spencer, have been created as a result of newcomer business ideas. There are so many services that we engage with on a daily basis that are solely a result of the impact of displaced individuals in society.
This positive impact created upon newcomer arrival greatly outweighs the possible negative impressions held by the communities welcoming these unique and highly ambitious individuals.
Not only can this be felt by the people in a community; through experiencing new point-of-views, but can also be seen through statistical analyses. A report released in 2018 by the UK’s Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) revealed just how rooted this impact is. The report revealed that highly skilled individuals are often immigrating into the UK, offering their skills to the workforce and causing an upward boost in productivity. The introduction of new perspectives has also resulted in an increase in innovation
What about school achievement? The committee proved this wrong;no negative impact was seen on school achievement despite the increased number of pupils. On the contrary, it was found that, on average, children who spoke English as their second language were outperforming children who were native English speakers.
What about the impact on taxes? Well report from the committee revealed that displaced individuals from the European Economic Area contributed more in taxation than they actually consumed in services, particularly for the NHS.
Research by PwC and London First revealed that four additional jobs are supported by the presence of 10 newcomer workers and the value they generate. Shining a microscope on London revealed that newcomer workers holding full time jobs were greatly contributing to the gross value added (GVA) per year to the economy, with a grand total of £46,000 each. Let’s break down what the GVA actually is; a measure in the rise of an economy’s performance on a nationwide scale. When you buy items, you are paying an amount known as the selling price. Companies make a profit when this price is able to cover all the hidden costs leading up to making that item, known as the cost price. Therefore, a company’s profit is the difference between the selling and cost price. If a company is able to find a way to produce these goods cheaper whilst a high demand causes customers to be willing to pay a little more, then that means the ‘goods value’ has increased.
An incredibly exciting fact is that almost HALF of the UK’s fastest growing startup businesses have at least one newcomer co-founder! That’s right, about 49% of newly successful startups are built on the backs of newcomer ideas, so it comes as no surprise to learn of just how deep the impact left on society is by these ideas. Britain’s fastest 100 growing companies have even contributed a combined £3.7 billion in investments solely to newcomer-led businesses.
This type of success and positive impact due to long-term immigration has been a reality for centuries. Marks & Spencer has been a prominent fixture in the UK for longer than most of us can remember and has become so well known that it may as well be classed as a national landmark.
The retail empire was the creation of Michael Marks; a man who was born in Slonim, Belarus but emigrated to the UK at age 23. In 1859, when Marks was born, Slonim was part of Russian Poland, which was a town that had a significant Jewish population. At the time, Governments had restrictions placed upon Jewish communities freedom of movement and violent attacks were unfortunately just a part of everyday life. Marks and his family had emigrated to Leeds in 1882 for a better life and this propelled Marks's journey towards creating the household name that is Marks & Spencers.
Marks found himself flourishing in the Leeds garment industry; opening a successful stall in Leeds’ open market only 2 years after his arrival. In 1894, Marks met Thomas Spencer, an English businessman who believed in Marks and invested today’s equivalent of approximately £35,000 into the business for 50% of the Company. From here, the company’s growth was outstandingly exponential; with 36 stalls and 12 stores by 1897.
Displaced individuals-led businesses have slid themselves into various aspects of our current daily lives. Anytime you choose to order a takeaway, you may find yourself leaning towards Deliveroo, a Taiwanese-American founded enterprise, or you may want to order through Just Eat, a company founded by five Danish entrepreneurs. Maybe you want to get better at budgeting your money and decide to use Monzo, a company co-founded by both displaced individuals and British businessmen alike. Or maybe you’d like to treat yourself to some online shopping using Farfetch, an e-commerce company founded by Portugese entrepreneur José Neves.
The list is endless and is not limited to these large scale companies; newcomer impact is everywhere, whether it may be your morning pastry from your favourite family-run bakery, or picking up last minute items from your local corner shop.
Although we are shining a light on these success stories, we need to bear in mind the struggle, sacrifices and choices that have been made prior to even embarking on these entrepreneurial endeavours. And in saying so, we owe it to ourselves and our communities to support individuals who are currently on the rise, who are working tirelessly towards creating positive change and a lasting impression.
If you find yourself wanting to learn more, or are interested in inspiring stories like these, we are hosting an exciting upcoming event: ‘Voices of Change’, where we will hear first-hand the stories of truly galvanizing changemakers and their journeys thus far.