5 questions on immigration YOU should know the answers to
Immigration is almost always in the news, leading people to build various assumptions on the subject – but what are the facts?
Since 1945, immigration in the United Kingdom has increased, in particular, from the Republic of Ireland, but also from previous colonies of the British Empire such as India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, South Africa, Hong Kong and the Caribbean.
The latest data, gathered in December 2012, shows:
- Around 13% of the British population is now made up of immigrants.
- 7.7 million of UK residents are born abroad, of those; 5 million came from outside the EU, and 2.6 million from within the EU. (see figure 1)
- The most common non-UK country of birth for UK residents was India, hitting the chart at 729,000 Indian-born people. (see figure 2)
- The most common non-British nationality in the UK was Polish, with 700,000 Polish nationals. (see figure 3)
Figure 1: non-UK born population resident in the United Kingdom, calendar years 2008-2012
Figure 2: Five most common non-UK countries of birth in the United Kingdom in 2012, calendar years 2008-2012
Figure 3: Five most common non-British nationalities in the United Kingdom in 2012, calendar years 2008-2012
1) Why do people migrate to the UK?
According to a report (PDF) published in 2007 by The London School of Economics and Political Science, the majority of people who move to the UK do so “for work, refuge, stimulus, profit, personal development and pleasure”.
They believe the United Kingdom can offer themselves, and their families, better education, healthcare, and work opportunities.
2) Where do they live?
The diagram below shows the number, in thousands, of non-UK born residents in different regions and, also, the top five countries of birth per region.
3) Are foreign nationals ‘taking’ our jobs?
This seems to be a debate which causes heated discussions on many online sites, as well as well in person.
In November 2013, The Telegraph reported that a government-backed study found one in fifth jobs in key industries are being filled by migrants, for the sole reason that there is an apparent lack of skilled British individuals searching for employment.
The report also gives statistics from the Office for National Statistics which shows that the number of foreign nationals finding jobs in the UK had increased by 225,000 to 4.26 million in a year, as opposed to a rise of just 192,000 British-born workers.
In addition, temporary work restrictions for Romanian and Bulgarian migrants have been lifted as of 1st January 2014. This could pose an increase in people immigrating from Romania and Bulgaria in the search for work.
4) Are foreign nationals working same jobs for less pay than British nationals?
The minimum wage currently in the United Kingdom is £6.31 per hour. Although it is illegal for employers to pay any less than the minimum wage, there have been cases reported by the BBC where foreign nationals are paid much less for their labour.
5) Can immigrants claim welfare benefits whilst living in the UK?
If immigrants have a residence permit which allows them to live in the UK, it may include the condition that they are unable to claim most public funds such as benefits, tax credits and housing assistance.
However, there are exceptions to this condition and, with a call to HM Revenues and Customs, immigrants can receive advice on which benefits they are entitled to claim and how.
Recent news by The Independent reported Boris Johnson had called for a two year gap between the arrival of immigrants, and the time when they can start claiming welfare benefits.
Mr Johnson 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.”