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Employment a ‘pull factor’ for migrants to Britain

10 June 20160 comments

Migrants to the United Kingdom have higher employment rates than British-born citizens, according to new research produced at Oxford University.

Working opportunities and not welfare benefits are most likely “pulling” non-British EU citizens into the UK, the research says.

UK migrantsEU migrants’ access to British welfare has dominated recent Brexit discussions ahead of the June 22 referendum on whether Britain will remain in the European Union.

And it was a key part of British Prime Minister David Cameron’s renegotiation with other EU leaders at the February summit in Brussels.

While it’s true that the number of EU citizens living in Britain has significantly increased since 2011, the analysis carried out by the university’s Migration Observatory found that most migrants are not receiving welfare support.

European migrants are also less likely to claim unemployment benefits, compared to UK citizens, according to report authors Silvia Sciorilli Borrelli and Ryan Collins.

“By contrast, EU migrants are more likely to be claiming in-work benefits such as tax credits, which supplement the incomes of low-wage families, particularly those with children,” the report said.

The study referred to a study which showed that last year “12 per cent of EU-born adults reported receiving tax credits, the main in-work benefit in the UK, compared to 10 per cent of the UK born.”

However, 75 per cent of the Europeans that moved to Britain in the past five years were either single or childless couples.

Oxford University said two big push factors sending people to the UK were low wages in Eastern European countries and high unemployment in Southern Europe.

Wages in Eastern European countries, such as Poland and Romania, are much lower on average than in the UK.

Disposable income in the UK is nearly twice as high as in Poland and more than quadruple that in Romania.

Overall, at the end of 2015, 71 per cent of Europeans said they were moving to Britain for work, and almost 60 per cent had jobs when they arrived.

The employment rate among migrants – for both men and women – is higher than for those who were born in the UK, the report said.

In 2015, 90 per cent of men born in countries that joined the EU in 2004 or later were employed compared to 78 per cent of the UK-born men.

And among women from new member countries, the employment rate was at 75 per cent compared to 70 per cent among UK-born women.

The number of EU citizens living in the UK has more than doubled in the past 15 years, with the migrant population exceeding 3 million as of 2015.

In the past five years alone, almost 700,000 EU-born people moved to the UK, with half of them coming from Poland and Romania, the report said.


Laurie Nowell
AMES Australia Senior Journalist