BLACKBURN with Darwen is among the top third of local authorities in England and Wales for immigration levels, a new Home Office study reveals.

It is among 127 council areas classified as receiving the most incoming migrants as an Asylum Dispersal Area with a large, already resident immigrant community.

The study follows last year’s publication of 2011 census results which showed, with just 66.5 per cent of residents describing themselves as ‘white British’, the borough is one of the UK’s most ethnically diverse.

The government analysis reveals that Burnley, Hyndburn, Rossendale and Pendle have ‘moderate migration flows’ and Ribble Valley and Chorley ‘low’ immigration.

It found asylum-seekers and refugees had the highest impact on public services because of their levels of need.

The Home Office study also said legitimate students and skilled workers from outside the Europe had little impact, making less demand on public services than the average UK resident.

It found the presence of an established immigrant community, like those in East Lancashire, was ‘particularly influential’ in helping an area cope with new migrants.

The report said: "The 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."

Blackburn MP Jack Straw, who last year successfully fought off a government bid to double the number of asylum seekers in the borough, said: “This report shows that having done our bit to provide refugees with a home, we were absolutely right to resist an increase in the number of asylum seekers soming to the borough.

“It also demonstrates that people with skills coming here to join our established South Asian community do not necessarily put an extra demand on our public services.”

Burnley council leader Julie Cooper said: “I think we now have a fairly balanced population in Burnley.

“The report shows migrants do not necessarily put pressure on council and other public services.”

The study also highlighted pressure on housing, with many new migrants ending up in poor quality private rented accommodation.