MigrationWatch has published a paper by its leader Sir Andrew Green which says that Britain should remove the ‘pull‘ for new immigrants.
When he speaks of the ‘pull’, he is referring to the UK’s minimum wage and the benefits available here which are worth up to five times more than those in Romania and Bulgaria.
MigrationWatch has a long and illustrious history of skewed data about immigrants.
For the most part, their anti-immigration sentiment flows from two categories: economic concerns, where it is claimed immigrants have a detrimental impact on employment, and social issues, or in other words, losing our ‘Britishness’.
I will focus on the former.
The National Institute of Economic and Social Research has recently shown through statistical evidence that, specifically during a recession or low growth period, net immigration has little or no impact on unemployment in the host country.
This may be because most migrants move to a country for a specific reason, rather than just for the sake of it. They may already have a job, are willing to take up lower paid work, or indeed they may be students who tend to be self-supporting.
For the most part, people do not make huge life changing decisions, such as moving to a new country, on a whim.
As MigrantWatch has pointed out, 26 million Bulgarians and Romanians will be able to move to the UK from January 1st 2014. Forgetting the other 26 EU states they could go to, and assuming that the entire population of Bulgaria and Romania decide to up sticks and come here, they are technically correct.
What MigrationWatch forgets, however, is that the citizens of both countries have been free to come to the UK to live for the past six years. The only restrictions have been on the labour markets.
Additionally, MigrantWatch and its affiliates are concerned that the EU will allow Romanians to come over to the UK and claim benefits rather than work.
The stats, however, don’t back this up.
In the 2010/11 fiscal year, 5.5 million out of the 38 million UK working age population claimed work related benefits, including Jobseekers Allowance, Income Support and the like.
Of these, 371,000 were non-UK nationals, a quarter of whom were from other EU countries.
The difference is staggering, and coupled with the above NIESR report, shows that migrants don’t come for the benefits, nor do they ‘steal jobs’, as some believe.