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    Immigration can help with ‘bringing inflation down’

    Gita Gopinath, First Deputy Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund, (Photo by Brendan Smialowski / AFP via Getty Images)

    Immigration that fills gaps in the domestic jobs market can help push down UK inflation, the deputy head of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has said.

    IMF’s Gita Gopinath told BBC Newsnight that “with inflation as high as it is there are benefits to having workers come in.”

    UK headline inflation fell to 8.7 per cent year-on-year in April, but core inflation – which excludes volatile food and energy prices – rose to 6.8 per cent, the highest in the G7.

    “In this context, with inflation as high as it is, having workers who can fill the shortages in some of the sectors that we’re seeing right now will help with bringing inflation down,” Gopinath, the deputy managing director of the IMF, said.

    “So I think there are benefits to having workers come in.”

    The government said the immigration system could “flex to the needs of the economy”.

    Net migration (the difference between the number of people entering the country and those leaving on a long-term basis) is at a record level in the UK – at 606,000 in 2022, according to the Office for National Statistics.

    The latest official statistics showed the UK still had more than one million vacancies in the three months to April 2023.

    The industries with the highest vacancy ratios were accommodation and food (5.5 per cent), health and social work (4.5 per cent) and professional scientific jobs (4 per cent).

    Gopinath also told Newsnight that the IMF stood by its 2018 forecast that Brexit would reduce the long-term growth potential of the UK economy by 2.5 per cent to 4 per cent of GDP, equivalent to £900 to £1,300 per person.

    In a statement the Treasury said the UK had “moved away from the old model of unlimited, unskilled migration”.

    “We now have a points-based immigration system, giving the British people full control of the country’s borders, which is designed to flex to the needs of the economy to ensure we have the skills we need.

    “We want businesses to invest in our domestic workforce to fill labour shortages, but where there’s an acute need for staff, we have also been flexible, including putting care homes and the seafood industry on the shortage occupation list,” a spokesperson said.

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