Belfast Telegraph

Monday 22 September 2014

10% rise in Eastern Europe workers

Nigel Farage and Ukip claimed the UK would be 'swamped' by Romanians and Bulgarians

The number of Romanians and Bulgarians employed in Britain between April and June rose nearly 10% compared with the previous three months, official figures have revealed.

A total of 153,000 Romanians and Bulgarians were employed in the UK in the quarter , some three months after access restrictions to the labour market for the two countries were lifted, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said.

This is an increase of 13,000 when compared with the 140,000 in the previous three months, from January to March, and an increase of 9,000 when compared with the last three months of 2013.

Restrictions to the labour market were lifted for Romanians and Bulgarians on January 1, prompting warnings of a looming surge of immigration from the two countries.

The previous batch of data appeared to suggest the predicted surge in Romanians and Bulgarians arriving in Britain had not transpired as the numbers actually dipped over the turn of the year by 4,000 workers.

A range of polarised reports emerged in the run-up to the lifting of controls, including a predicted surge in pickpocketing, muggings, beggars on the streets and rioting.

Other reports suggested citizens from the two Eastern European countries will attempt to sell their babies when they arrive in Britain.

And claims of fully-booked flights and coaches from Bucharest and Sofia at the turn of the year were incorrect and retracted.

The Home Affairs Select Committee earlier this year blasted the Government for failing to commission estimates of the numbers of Romanians and Bulgarians who would come to Britain after controls were lifted.

In a damning report, the committee said the Government's decision not to obtain official estimates played into the hands of those who ''wish to inflame tensions about immigration for political gain''.

Prime Minister David Cameron rushed through new measures at the end of last year to ensure EU migrants will be unable to claim out-of-work benefits for their first three months in the UK.

In addition, those found begging or sleeping rough could be deported and barred from re-entry for 12 months unless they can show they have a proper reason to be in the UK, such as holding a job.

Other proposals previously announced in the Government's flagship Immigration Act will see migrant access to the NHS restricted, while landlords, employers, bankers and DVLA staff will all be expected to take part in checks for illegal immigrants under tough reforms.

Commenting on the increase of Romanian and Bulgarian workers, Sir Andrew Green, chairman of Migration Watch UK, said: "Once dependants are factored in it is likely that the increase in population over the whole year 2014 will be between 30,000 and 70,000 as we predicted.

"Our central estimate of 50,000 remains a very likely outcome."

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