176,000 new EU workers come to UK
Staff and agencies
Thursday May 26, 2005
More than 175,000 workers came to Britain from eastern and central Europe in the 11 months following last year's EU expansion, new government figures showed today.
Earlier government-commissioned research had estimated that between 5,000 and 13,000 people from the eight former communist accession states would come to the UK annually, but the total from last May to the end of March this year was 176,000.
Home Office figures show that 40,000 workers from the so-called "A8" states signed on to the worker registration scheme in the first three months of this year .................
.............. Home Office minister Tony McNulty said the workers were continuing to take "hard to fill" jobs.
The figures show that more than eight out of 10 workers were aged between 18 and 34, with just 5% registering dependants such as spouses or children.
The government report says A8 immigrants are making "very few demands" on public services such as the NHS, benefits system or education.
Since a peak in June and July last year, applications have levelled off to between 13,000 and 14,000 a month, it added.
The numbers applying for benefits was "very low", it said, with 1,200 applications for Income Support, Jobseeker's Allowance or State Pension Credit in the first 11 months after EU expansion, only 24 of which were allowed to go ahead to the next stage for consideration.
In the same period there were 8,148 applications for child benefit, of which 44% were approved.
In all, 43 new arrivals from the new EU countries were given council housing, and 216 were given homelessness assistance.
Most migrants were filling gaps in the labour market in administration, catering, farming and construction, the study found, but thousands of others were working in public services.
Between July last year and the end of March this year, 3,900 registered as care workers ; 2,500 as bus, lorry or coach drivers; 485 as teachers, researchers and classroom assistants and 190 as dental practitioners, including hygienists and dental nurses.
There were also 200 who signed the register to work as doctors or nurses.
Mr McNulty said : "Workers are contributing to our economy, paying tax and national insurance and filling key jobs in areas where there are gaps.
"We estimate registered workers contributed approximately £500m to the UK economy between May 2004 and March 2005."
He added: "Individuals from the new member states make up just over 0.4% of the total working age population and there is little evidence of a widespread impact on employment, unemployment or wages.
"UK employment currently stands at 74.9%, which is unchanged from 12 months ago."
Of the 176,000 applicants, 56% were Polish. The second largest group was Lithuanians (15%), followed by Slovaks (11%). Overall, 60% of applicants were men and 40% women in the first three months of this year.
The so-called "A8" eastern and central European countries are : Hungary, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Slovenia, Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia and Poland.
Nationals from the two other countries which joined the EU at the same time - Malta and Cyprus - do not have to sign the register.
The report shows that 96% were working full time and 80% were earning £4.50 to £5 an hour.
It also showed that the A8 nationals' predominance in London was showing signs of fading.
In May and June last year, 26% registered to work in London but in the first three months of this year the proportion was 17%.
London still has the largest number of registered workers from A8 states (34,255), followed by the Anglia region (27,720) and Central region (18,255).