24 Oct 2016, 53 mins ago

A recent report titled “Truth by Numbers” has published interesting findings obtained by Rapid Formations in investigating the financial impact European migrants have in the United Kingdom. The results are surprising, contradicting the more often negative and misguided perceptions associated with European migrants coming to the UK. These findings are particularly enlightening given the current election debate regarding Britain’s EU membership.

The year 2014 saw a significant increase in EU migration into the UK, with 251,000 EU migrants entering the UK. This increased from approximately 208,000 the previous year. Taking into account the number of EU citizens that left the UK in the same year, the net migration of EU migrants equated to 168,000. The highest wave of EU migrants last year came from Spain (33,000), Poland (27,000) and France (22,000) followed by Italy, Romania, Lithuania, the Netherlands and Portugal (in descending order). The findings also indicate an increase in the number of Romanians and Bulgarians migrating to the UK by around 11,000 more than the previous year, which could likely be attributed to the removal of EU employment restrictions in January 2014 to migrants from these countries.

The findings indicate that a significant majority of all EU migrants came to the UK for work (60% of all EU migrants), with over half of all those migrants having a definite job offer on their arrival in the UK. The remainder came to study or for other reasons (e.g. to join family). The report goes on to identify the types of occupations the EU migrants fill. Interestingly, the statistics demonstrate that a slightly higher proportion of EU migrants are currently employed compared to UK natural born citizens.

The report further identifies that EU migrants trump their UK-born counterparts in earning a distinctively higher salary (an average of £2,035 per year more), are more likely to hold a university degree or higher education qualification and a higher proportion are classified as “professionals” (professionals, associate professionals or senior management officials).

There are also some noteworthy findings relating to those migrants that choose to leave the UK. Government findings from 2010 suggest that a majority of emigrants that leave the UK are single (61%) and are of working age (between 15-64)(approximately 93%). Just over half of those migrants that left the UK in 2013/2014 reported work as their main reason for leaving. Interestingly, whilst Spain saw the highest wave of immigration into the UK in the year 2013/2014, Spain was also the first country of choice for those migrants leaving the UK, followed by France and Germany. Of those leaving the UK in 2013, around 40% were British citizens. However, it is unclear which nationalities account for the remaining 60% that chose to leave the UK in the same year.

When it comes to how much EU migrants contribute to the UK in financial terms, reporting on statistics from 2011, and taking into account public spending and public revenues raised from EU migrants, the report concludes that the UK records “an overall financial gain from incoming EU migrants” and that they “actually make a larger net contribution to UK public finances than natural born residents”. EU migrants are reported to be 43% less likely than their UK born counterparts to be in receipt of state benefits and 7% less likely to live in social housing. It doesn’t end there. EU migrants are also found to be more likely to start their own business and employ more workers thereby further contributing to UK business. However, the report does not include similar statistics for the year 2014.

Whilst EU migration to the UK appears to be steadily on the rise, this report quite clearly suggests that the positive impact of migration to the UK in the form of “tangible financial benefits” to UK’s economy outweighs the potential negative outcomes and thereby calls into question whether anti-immigration policies are truly defensible.

What is clear is that there has not been open and frank debate on the topic largely because of political correctness as well as the looming election. A cursory glance at the statistics from the House of Commons library illustrates that all immigrants make up a fraction of the overall benefit claimants and laying the blame at the door of the New Europeans suits a variety of vested interests.