We repeat, migrants are *less* likely to claim benefits than indigenous Britons

Contrary to what David Cameron would have you believe, benefit tourism just isn't a significant problem.

In a sop to UKIP, David Cameron has pledged to bar migrants from claiming out-of-work benefits for three months after their arrival to the UK.

The measure is supposed to put off ‘would-be benefit tourists’ from coming to Britain.

What David Cameron probably won’t tell you, however, is that migrants from Eastern Europe are less likely to claim benefits than indiginous Britons.

Most migrants from the EU do not come to Britain to sign on, but to work. Migrants who came to the UK after the year 2000 have made a ‘substantial’ contribution to public finances, according to a recent study by University College London.

Those from the European Economic Area (EEA – the EU plus Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein) made a particularly strong contribution in the decade up to 2011, contributing 34 per cent more in taxes than they received in benefits, the study found.

Other data backs this up.

In 2008-09, at the height of Labour’s policy of so-called ‘uncontrolled immigration’, A8 immigrants paid 37 per cent more in direct or indirect taxes than they received in public goods and services.

A8 immigrants contributed 0.96 per cent of total tax receipts and accounted for only 0.6 per cent of total expenditures (see table).

Benefit tourists

And before someone makes a boring argument about Britain’s benefit system being ‘the most generous in Europe’, that isn’t true either. A study by the Economic and Social Research Council’s Centre for Population Change (CPC) carried out last year found that the UK had below average levels of welfare spending among developed nations. (See graph).

Benefits graph

There is no reason to view Britain as any more attractive to benefit tourists than other EU countries, and no reason to view the latest ‘crackdown’ on ‘welfare tourism’ as anything other than an attempt to shore up the right-wing vote.

Benefit tourism just isn’t a significant problem.

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45 Responses to “We repeat, migrants are *less* likely to claim benefits than indigenous Britons”

  1. Mike Stallard

    James – I work at a Centre which welcomes immigrants and has done since the Poles first arrived. What you say is absolutely true – at first they were exemplary. They worked like demons for our centre (and church) voluntarily AFTER 12 hour shifts at the factory or in the fields!
    But things have changed a lot now.
    There are professional human traffickers around who shove people in here for money. There are professional hucksters who show how, if you just get rid of your partner, you can get free housing and so on. There are a lot of Europeans now, collecting all the welfare they can get – and then collecting it at home too.
    Oh yes, the vast majority do in fact do us the honour of becoming British. They learn the language, dress and behave just like us and their children are as British as you or me. Lovely people most of them too.
    Overall I am very positive about immigrants: they have saved our (Catholic) Church. But there is enormous amount of swindling too.

  2. SimonB

    It’s been pointed out elsewhere that much of what was announced today is already being done, and the new bit, the minimum earning threshold, is probably illegal. So another triumph for tabloid-led policy.

  3. Sparky

    James Bloodworth’s thinking:

    1. Migrants are less-likely to claim benefits than the indigenous population, but
    2. Migrants don’t take jobs away from the indigenous population.

    Which is it? Either they’re competing in the job market or they’re not.

    Perhaps he could clarify.

  4. Two Bob

    I care about all of the youth that are leaving our education system and are being left on the scrap heap because it is cheaper for big business to hire immigrant pre trained labour than directly train our youth for the work (not because our boys and girls are lazy – mere propaganda). I was talking to a check out girl at Aldi the other day, lovely 26 year old woman from Poland, got a good degree and works shelf stacking at Aldi and has been there for a few years. If that is not a waste of her education and potential I do not know what else is. Why is her country not providing her with the opportunities she deserves and why is our country not giving our school leavers the opportunities they deserve, relative to their education rather than leaving them to wither away on benefits?

    Everyone has to start somewhere, but why would an employer want to give a basic job to a school leaver with no experience if the rotten system allows them to have someone (and an unlimited supply of people) with a degree and a couple of years of experience ready and willing but prepared to work for the same salary (or less)? The fact this system allows that to happen is what disgusts me, but of course organisations like the CBI love the EU – this sort of thing benefits them.

    Westminster is a mess and the EU is a mess. There is nothing wrong with a free trade area but there is everything wrong with having a federal cancer attached to it. For Britain, France, and Spain and Greece etc all to be successful in the future is to have politicians that work soley for their own people, not the so called European project. Being more country orientated is not going to start a war, Europe would not suddenly go back 70 years – but chronic youth unemployment alonemay cause it.

    Because of immigration the jobs being created are quickly being taken by migrants. There is a crisis in the NHS and Education because of the sheer volume. The birthrate is out of control, pushing our population up to unsustainable levels. There is also a housing crisis which can only be appeased by building on greenbelt land which would be a nothing other than a catastrophe, becoming apparent in the near future. Unfettered immigration is wrong for Britain and will eventually be the straw that broke the camels back. It is eroding the quality of our lives piece by piece year after year. Just remember how limited in size our country is.

    If Britain leaves the EU it will be much better for all of us. Britain could create its own Common Market with its former colonies, from India to Australia, from South Africa to Canada. And will save alot of money. We wont be alone or isolated in the world – our ultimate goal would be to broker and associate with many of the trading blocks around the world without having to join at the hip – it is a huge opportunity. Those people who accuse us Ukippers of being Little Englanders are themselves infact Little Britainers or Little Europeans. We are not even remotely suggesting turning our backs on Europe or clicking our fingers to bring online our defensive shield, so why say that?

    Many of us Ukippers love Europe itself and spend considerable holiday time in France, Spain, Italy, not to mention dear old Scotland. We are proud Britons, and proud members of the family of Europe. But we cannot stomach having a tsunami of regulation and legislation handed down to us by mediocre, unelected bureaucrats, presiding over a monetary union that has been disastrous for several smaller nations and bodes ill for several larger. We cannot accept that our independence has beengiven away by the slitherers of new labour, and we are going to reclaim it. We accept that controlled immigration can welcome talent to Britain through stringent admission procedures, but for people with degrees from poor countries to come here and work minimum wage jobs, out competing our school leavers simply because their minimum (and average) wage is a fraction of ours is immoral and is quite frankly a kick in the teeth. Anyone can have huge work ethic if they are given the opportunity to earn 5 times more than they usually would, so the playing field is hardly level, not to mention the people in semi skilled jobs formerly earning a living wage having to re-price themselves in the jobs market, widening the gap between rich and poor.

    Free movement between Britain, Holland, France, Germany, Italy Finland etc was never the issue. The amount of free movement a country and its citizens can have access to should be directly linked to the wealth of their country, their economic performance should reach a minimum standard per capita before full free movement can be initiated, otherwise it is simply a race to the bottom for the working class of western Europe, and extremist parties will get the opportunity to take advantage, and massively take advantage they will if things carry on as they are. Expect an huge army of eurosceptics from France, Britain, Holland, Denmark, Finland, Italy in May 2014 based on this issue, and also the issue of the euro, both which are dragging ordinary people (and countries) off the edge of a cliff, the process of turning Europe into a country, slowly but surely (deny it all you like europhiles, but that is the ultimate goal and you cannot fool us) is harming its citizens.

    I cannot fathom how any normal person from any country, let alone England/Britain can disagree with any of this, unless they have a serious vested interest, whether that is their hiring of a cheap cash in hand nanny from Latvia, or their gravy train in Brussels waiting for them to climb aboard once they get booted out of government. So please, get a grip and look at society as a whole, not just GDP, human nature is far more important. Boston & Skegness will get its first UKIP MP (among many) for a reason. Britain is the dustbin of Europe, and Poland is now thriving, yes because less people mean less unemployment, whilst we pay for their kids at home and go to foodbanks.

    Limited imigration is good. Uncontrolled mass economic migration is not. You are a typical chattering class stooge. Any left winger who thinks the system is fine as it is needs to look at themselves in the mirror and think about the working class of Britain for a change. Champagne socialists make me sick.

  5. Dave Roberts

    James. I was about to go on the offensive when I saw the main title but by the time I got to the article itself I saw you had changed the story somewhat. Poles are not Somalis and it is totally disingenuous to to suggest that they are. A book well worth reading is ” The Diversity Illusion” by Ed West who totally demolishes the current liberal/extreme left consensus on immigration.

    Ignoring benefits received at the point of delivery such as education and the NHS Poles take a half of one per cent of other applied for benefits. With Somalis the figure is over seventy.

    Poles, Latvians, Estonians, Lithuanians and others, but not all, from the former Soviet empire are essentially Europeans with all that that implies. Their religious, family and general social values are very similar to our own. That cannot be said of a culture like the Somalis, and I realise that there are sub groups and cultures among them, that believe in female genital mutilation. Sub Saharan Africa isn’t and never will be largely Catholic eastern Europe.

    To point that out isn’t, as Simon B seems to be saying, a victoryfor tabloid led something or other, it’s just true.

  6. TM

    The Left is indeed full of the chattering classes of London, basically the affluent Middle class socialists who pretend to care. Why do they care so much about immigrants and not poor Working class people in Britain? Anyone care to answer that? Immigration is about one thing: CHEAP LABOUR!!!! Do the Middle class suffer here? Well if they were believe me there’d be a change of tune coming from them, but as it’s only poor people being affected, who cares about them anyway? As long the Middle class of whatever political persuasion have their affluent careers and nice housing and access to good education and wonderful lifestyles, well why would they care? Have they ever? They are the archetypal do gooding class, either contemptuous of the white Working class or patronising. That about sums up the Right and the Left in this country. And anyone who disagrees with a Middle class person is either a racist or a pleb!!! So there’s no debate either. Welcome to 21st century Britain.
    I will never vote for UKIP however because we would be swapping one load or rich posh Southern boys with privileged lives, for another. Some choice that would be.

  7. Sparky

    This is why I am against more migrants:

    1. They are competing for jobs that unemployed people here could do.
    2. They are prepared to work for less so they drive down wages
    3. They put added pressure on housing and infrastructure and public services

    What are your top three reasons for more migrants? I don’t mean a critique of my reasons, I mean three positive benefits.

  8. Sparky

    Come on James, how about an article addressing that question? They’re not going to claim benefits but they’re also not going to compete with British workers for jobs?

  9. Boston_scoundrel

    1. They make a massive net fiscal contribution to the UK economy. EEA migrants contributed, net, about £22bn between 2001 and 2011 (according to the Centre for Research and Analysis of Migration at University College London).

    2. They are, therefore, making a proportionally bigger contribution to infrastructure and services than UK natives

    3. They stop us becoming insular and mono-cultural

  10. Dave Roberts

    Boston_ scoundrel.

    Two points. How much do they take out and what is the political orientation of the think tank you use?

  11. Boston_scoundrel

    It’s a NET fiscal contribution – that is, they put in much more than they take out (unlike the average of the native UK population, which are net takers).

    I didnt quote a think tank – I quoted an academic source (the clue is in the name: University College London)

  12. TM

    Yes this may be true, and there are many benefits we have accrued because of immigration, but the basic premise all seem to forget is that it is now essentially about cheap unlicensed labour that means more profits for the affluent and a lack of jobs for millions unemployed here. Of course, if you are wealthy or one of those affluent Middle class Lefties it won’t affect you will it??!!

  13. Boston_scoundrel

    That’s simply not true. Ignoring Daily Express headlines (not noted for their accuracy) proper academic studies have shown that the displacement effect at the lower end of the labour market – which is what you are referring to – is pretty small. About 1 in 13 jobs held by a migrant worker displaces one which could be done by a UK native. The really worrying issue is with high skill, high value jobs where something like 20% of jobs are held by non-native employees, because UK schools and universities aren’t producing young people with the right skills. Without the immigration you are worried about, those employers would pack up and go somewhere else. The issue you should early get your arse in your hands about isn’t immigration, it’s the woeful state of British education.

  14. TM

    OK, that’s a fair point and you engaged with me lucidly and intelligently. But the fact is that a lot of immigration is about cheap labour ultimately. The perception, whether right or wrong, is that many work in jobs that should be better paid so that people here could do them and not be ruthlessly exploited.
    Incidentally, where do you get your stats from? Another problem I have is people dismissing an argument because they say it’s false and misleading, but then everyone and his dog can do that can’t they if they disagree with an opinion? Most realities, harsh ones, involve some kind of economics at their core, and immigration seems to be about exploitation and getting away with paying low wages to people who see those wages as high. It’s not rocket science mate!

  15. TM

    Yes. That is rather contradictory isn’t it? I guess he won’t feel the need to answer but do what they all do, issue statements from on high. That’s why most politics is a game played by the affluent.

  16. Boston_scoundrel

    The point is that the perception is wrong. The 1 in 13 figure comes from the Government’s Migration Advisory Committee, from work they did on the economic implications of immigration, published 18 months or so ago. The 20% figure comes from the Office for National Statistics.

    Immigration may seem to be about cheap labour and driving down wages. But the reality is that it isnt. The problem is that people form a view on the basis of perception, or headlines in the Daily Mail, and dont bother to investigate the real facts…

  17. LB

    Tell us again why we need any migrants on benefits?

    Look at the cost.

    Bugger all in tax.

    Lots of paying money out.

    If you want migrants like that, there’s a simple test. You personally sponsor them and pay out of your pocket.

  18. LB

    How does a migrant on welfare make a net fiscal contribution?

    They don’t.

    Now look at how much a migrant needs to pay in tax to make a net contribution. The government spends 11.5K a year per person. You need to be on 44K a year to break even. Each and every migrant. And that ignores the pensions.

    So the Cream report from UCL is bonkers. No numbers as to earnings. Huge numbers are not earning 44K a year and so are not making a net contribution.

    They are paying a few quid in tax, and getting all their services for free, paid for by other people.


    1. Abu Hamzah – benefit claimant.
    2. Abrambovich.

    Hamzah isn’t making a net contribution is he? He cost over a million and paid no tax. Why are you trying to claim Abu Hamzah is good for the UK?

  19. LB

    They don’t.

    How does Abu Hamzah make a net contribution?

    How does the 29% on welfare make a net contribution?

  20. LB

    Put up a reference. The growth in the number of employed and the growth in the number of migrants shows where the jobs are going.

    If you haven’t noticed, there has been an increase in employement, increase in migration, and bugger all decrease in unemployment.

    ie. There is a huge displacement going on.

  21. Boston_scoundrel

    What’s Hamza got to do with it? Nothing.

    The fact is that EEA migrants make a massive net fiscal contribution. That’s a fact. No amount of huffing and puffing about one man makes any difference.

    And it’s a fact that migrants make up about 13% of the total workforce! but only7% of out of work benefit claimants. EEA migrants make up about 10% of the workforce but about 5% of out of work benefit claimants. In other words, migrants are less likely to be claiming benefits than UK natives and EEA migrants much less likely.

    They are facts. They might be inconvenient for you, but they are facts.

    The source of these facts is the Office of National Statistics. Which, no doubt, you will claim to be biased in some way…

  22. Boston_scoundrel

    It’s obviously nonsense to suggest that all the new jobs in the economy have gone to migrants. I don’t know about you, but where I work almost all new job starters are UK natives. That’s true of most jobs. Something like 20000 people start a new job each week and the vast majority were born here. About 85% of new jobs go to UK natives. That’s a fact.

    (Source – Jonathan Portes writing in the Spectator in 2012)

  23. LB

    Abu Hamzah has everything to do with it.

    I asked a question and you won’t answer it.

    Abu Hamzah was a migrant.

    Did he or did he not make a net contribution to the UK?

    Simple question. You’re claiming migrants make a net contribution. Hamzah is a migrant.

    Just finding out whether or not your claim is true.

    Did Hamzah make a net contribution?

  24. LB

    In other words, migrants are less likely to be claiming benefits than UK natives and EEA migrants much less likely.


    That may well be the case. My figures based off research you’ve quoted put the number higher.

    However, you’re not answering the question I’ve asked you’ve dodged it.

    For those migrants on welfare, do they make a net contribution?

    The answer is no they don’t. They consume money from other people on welfare and from the tax payer.

  25. LB

    I never claimed they did.

    I said that employment has gone up. Migration has gone up. Unemployment hasn’t changed much.

    That means that most of the new jobs have gone to migrants. If that was not the case, then unemployment would have gone down dramatically.

    You can’t explain that away.

  26. Boston_scoundrel

    The same way a UK native on benefits makes a net contribution. They don’t. But migrants are much less likely to be on benefits than U K natives and there are far fewer of them.

    I’ve said nothing about Hamza, he’s irrelevant to the argument

  27. Boston_scoundrel

    We don’t need anyone on benefits. But we have a welfare state which pays benefits to people judged to need them, wherever they were born.

  28. LB

    Notice the generalisation.

    e.g. Because one migrant is good, all migrants must be good.

    Imaging Boston’s reaction if someone claimed that a black man had committed a crime, and all black men must be criminals. He would rightly go apoplectic, but he’s prepared to use the logic of the BNP in arguing his case.

  29. LB

    I’ve asked you to comment because he’s entirely relevant.

    You are using BNP logic. e.g If one black man commits a crime, then all black men must be criminals is their way of thinking and logic.

    You’re applying that to migration. You’re saying because some migrants make a net contribution that all migrants must make a net contribution. They don’t.

    Hence the question about Hamzah. By your logic he must make a net contribution and so must be good for the UK. I’m asking you to back that up.

    Now you know that’s not the case, so you’re dodging the question.

    The reason why its relevant is that migration is a choice. The UK can say no and it can say yes on an individual basis. It should do that.

    It should reject all migrants on welfare because the migrant on welfare is not making a net contribution. Are you going to deny that? [My prediction is you’ll make another BNP like statement about all migrants being good for the UK]

  30. LB

    Yes. And we have a migration system that could say, we don’t want migrants on welfare. We can refuse to accept them into the UK.

  31. Boston_scoundrel

    You are misunderstanding the point quite spectacularly..

    Of course not every migrant makes a net contribution. I havent claimed that they do and noone, to the best of my knowledge, has argued that they do. Migrants as a whole make a massive net fiscal contribution. Some individuals, of course, do not. But the point is what happens in the aggregate. That is why any individual case is basically irrelevant – it doesnt change the aggregate position.

    I am not saying that some migrants make a net contribution therefore individually they all do. I am saying that the fact is that, in the aggregate, migrants make a net contribution. Some give, some take, but the former more than outweighs the latter.

    So of course Hamxa doesnt make a net contribution. I never claimed that he did, you just misunderstood my point.

    Do migrants on benefits make a net contribution? It depends on the timescale over which you measure. While they are claiming benefits, no they dont. But if they then get a job and make a positive contribution for then next 10 years, they may well might. So it isnt quite as simple as yu would like it to be.

  32. Boston_scoundrel

    Except, of course, that some migrants we force onto welfare whether they want to work or not (those seeking asylum).

  33. Boston_scoundrel

    You’re wrong. The fact is that the vast majority of new jobs have gone to UK natives. The number of jobs has gone up and most have them, the vast majority of them, have gone to UK natives. Because the number of new jobs has outstripped the rate of migration and the majority of new entrants to the labour market are UK natives.

    See, that was quite easy to explain away.

  34. Boston_scoundrel

    No, of course not. I have never claimed he did. You have just misunderstood my point.

  35. Boston_scoundrel

    Yes, of course they do. That’s obvious. I’ve never claimed otherwise.

    But it doesnt change the fact that, in the aggregate, migrants are net contributors to the UK economy. In the aggregate – which does not mean that ever single migrant is a net contributor – just that more are than are not. A relatively simple point.

  36. Boston_scoundrel

    I have never used that logic. I’m afraid you’ve made that up

  37. LB

    Of course not every migrant makes a net contribution. I havent claimed that they do and noone, to the best of my knowledge, has argued that they do.


    So why are we accepting the migrants who don’t make a net contribution?

    eg. Abu Hamzah.

    For the migrants who do make a net contribution, I’m all for them.

    Migration is an option. The country can choose to accept or reject.

    So accept the factual part, now progress.

    So where do you set the boundary. How big a contribution does a migrant have to make to make a net contribution.

    You claim that over all they do, so you must know where that boundary is (on average).

  38. TM

    Statistics. There is a saying you might do well to learn ‘there are lies, damned lies…and statistics.’ And as for that rag the Daily Mail, I would not use it for toilet paper. The problem I have with the whole immigration debate is that it is an ‘all or nothing’ kind of debate, or ‘you are either for us or against us’ or you are either saint for agreeing with it, or an evil Right wing racist if you don’t! So, only extreme views are heard and moderates like myself with misgivings are dismissed. This is a democracy and there are other voices other than the polarised ones. That’s what is wrong with all politics at the moment.

  39. Boston_scoundrel

    And there’s more to sensible analysis of the facts than tired old cliches.

    My views aren’t at all extreme. There’s a debate to be had about migration and it’s impacts. I have no problem with that. All I am saying is that it is better on the whole if one’s opinions are based on facts and evidence rather than supposition and assumption

  40. TM

    ‘There’s a debate to be had about migration and it’s impacts.’ That we can agree on then my friend. There is no real debate on it at all, it is too polarised. It is too black and white and the world is usually infinite shades of grey. I notice that even in Left leaning newspapers like the Daily Mirror most people are also concerned about immigration too. I was the archetypal sort of trendy Lefty too, applauding multi culturalism and immigration. But I am not so sure now. The debate is beyond politics, it is a whole raft of issues that have been sidelined, marginalised or ignored. Yes my friend, we need an OPEN debate on it. I won’t hold my breath waiting for ANY party to open it though, until it gets too big to be ignored, as I think it almost is now. Watch this space…

  41. TM

    ps I never said your views were extreme either!!! Even Sparky makes the odd valid point here and there. That my Boston scoundrel is what we call participatory democracy, opinions you or I may not agree with but should be heard all the same, not stifled for some political or other agenda. If someone then says something provocative or racist or whatever, they can then be argued down effectively. That is democracy. It is not all agreeing for politeness’ sake. We can in the end agree to disagree.

  42. Boston_scoundrel

    No one would ever accuse me of being trendy, but I am absolutely sure that multiculturalism is to be applauded and encouraged. The alternative, in which we all look and sound the same, is too awful to contemplate

  43. TM

    Perhaps I overegged the trendy bit! I tend to see the trendy Lefties as very Middle class too, which is something I am most certainly not. It can be a stance after all. What you say I agree with, and I love many cultures, and many different foods, and love to learn about many places. The problem may be that what happens when the people who are supposed to integrate, on all sides, don’t particularly want to? It seems almost enforced to me and it is obvious in many towns in the UK and the West in general that often people stick to their own communities. Middle class people eulogise community and multiculturalism because it is something alien them, often growing up in all white affluent and perhaps rather bland suburbs filled with respectable suburban folk with similar mentalities and a clipped accent. Don’t many Middle class people all look and sound the same, certainly where accents are concerned? I have a regional accent myself, the type of accent that is looked down and sneered at by white Middle class people, strangely enough the same no doubt who would be promoting equality and diversity!!! I do agree with difference, in fact being a cook I love variety and difference, I just find that there is an agenda behind some of it which is or can be disingenuous. Why isn’t white Working class culture celebrated in England, or Irish culture? Thirty years ago the Irish were being demonised, now it’s the Muslims. Nothing changes.

  44. Lance

    If there were no jobs for taking, why would they come here?

  45. leilamarie

    It’s because the Tory’s are in Government – they are an elitist party with no interest in helping the working class. They have grossly exaggerated the whole issue with immigration, as a ways of closeting more problematic issues occurring.

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