Workers from Romania and Bulgaria Could Do More for Britain than 'Natives'

Views on BG | January 8, 2014, Wednesday // 12:16|  views

Tory Home Office minister Earl Attlee. Photo by UPPA

The Daily Mail

Immigrants from Romania and Bulgaria could contribute more to Britain than ‘natives’, a Home Office minister has suggested.

Tory Earl Attlee backed claims in the House of Lords that ‘hard-working Romanians and Bulgarians’ would pay more in tax than they claim in benefits and public services, as earlier EU migrants had done.

And he added that the government is ‘very happy’ about the free movement of people across the EU after work restrictions were lifted on January 1.

Amid rising public anxiety before Christmas, Mr Cameron announced EU migrants will have to wait for at least three months before they can claim any out-of-work benefits under emergency regulations which took effect from January 1.

EU migrants had been able to start claiming jobseeker’s allowance and other benefits within weeks of arriving – prompting concern that some people are arriving, signing on and only then looking for work.

But Labour peer Lord Davies, who was a defence minister in Gordon Brown’s government, pointed to a study which suggested immigrants brought a net benefit to the UK.

In the Lords yesterday, he asked Earl Attlee: ‘Amid all the unpleasantness in parts of the media over the past few weeks about Romanians and Bulgarians, has the noble Earl had the time to see the study recently published by a team from University College London, which shows that immigrants from the EU over the past 10 years have contributed far more in taxes and national insurance contributions than they have consumed in public services and in benefits, unlike the position of the native population?

‘In other words, they have supplied us with a substantial financial and fiscal surplus, to the benefit of every taxpayer in this country.

‘Is there not every probability that hard-working Romanians and Bulgarians will follow in the same footsteps?’

According to the UCL study, those from the European Economic Area (EEA) – the EU plus Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein – made 'a particularly positive contribution in the decade up to 2011, contributing 34 per cent more in taxes than they received in benefits'.
Immigrants from outside the area, meanwhile, were reported as having contributed 2 per cent more in taxes than they received in the same period.

However Mervyn Stone, Emeritus Professor of Statistics at UCL, and statistician Nigel Williams of the Right-leaning think-tank Civitas have suggested it was a 'fatally flawed' piece of work.

Their criticism relate to the methodology used to work out the impact migrants are having on housing and the transport network.

Earl Attlee said he agreed with the idea that Romanians and Bulgarians would bring net economic benefits to Britain.

He later added that all three main political parties including the Tories had agreed to the work restrictions being lifted after a seven-year transition period.

‘That is why we are very happy with the accession of Romania and Bulgaria to the EU, and with the free movement of those peoples, from  January 1.’

However, Ukip leader Nigel Farage sparked controversy when he suggested no new immigrants should be allowed into Britain for five years.
He said: 'In terms of immigration, in terms of people coming to settle, I would suggest that for up to a five-year period we don’t have people coming to settle until we sort out the mess.'

London Mayor Boris Johnson also increased pressure on Mr Cameron when he called for immigrants to be banned from claiming benefits in Britain for two years, in a direct challenge to government policy.

Weeks after minsters rushed through new laws to extend the ban to three months, Mr Johnson said a much longer limit was needed to stop Britain being seen as a 'magnet' for people from poor parts of Europe.

He said: ‘If you want to come and work here, you can do that, but there should be a period before which you can claim all benefits and it seems entirely reasonable to me, that they should extend that to two years.'

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