Migrants from the EU have a lower rate of unemployment than the UK-born population, according to an analysis of 201 census data just published by ONS. They also make a net contribution to the British economy whilst the UK-born population involve a net cost to the economy. This is a stunning conclusion when the prevailing ideology, persistently promulgated by the Tories and the right-wing tabloids, is that EU migrants are largely ‘benefit tourists’. What however detailed analysis of the figures shows, as opposed to anecdotes, is that migrants from the 10 Eastern European countries that joined the EU in 2004 contributed nearly a net £5bn to the UK in the decade to 2011 whilst those from the original 15 EU members generated a net gain of £15bn over the same period. The analysis further showed that EU 15 migrants contributed 64% more in taxes to the UK than they received in benefits, and migrants from the Eastern European EU members (Poland, Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia and Lithuania) contributed 12% more than they received.
However both migrants from the EU and the UK-born population had a higher rate of employment than migrants from outside the EU, and it is the latter who make up two-thirds of the England and Wales non-UK-born population, about 4.2 million out of 6 million. Polish people were the most likely to be in work: 81% were employed compared with 69% of the UK-born population. The lowest employment rate was for Chinese and Bangladeshi migrants, though 76% and 40% respectively were students.
The research also found that EU migrants are significantly younger than the average UK-born resident and also more likely to have a degree. Significantly also, it was found that Britain tends to attract far more skilled immigrants than other EU countries. Polish immigrants to the UK, for example, had much higher levels of education than those in Germany. The study also found that a greater proportion of recent migrants are highly qualified.
It was striking however that the researchers calculated that, as opposed to EU migrants, the non-EU migrants between 1995-2011 involved a net cost to Britain of £118bn, partly due to the higher numbers of children and lower employment rate. By comparison the EU migrants over the same period brought a net gain of £4bn. That certainly highlights how far the UKIP argument about EU immigration has falsified the evidence and given a slant to prevailing views which is wholly inaccurate.