Recent immigrants to UK 'make net contribution'

 

Prof Christian Dustmann: Immigrants 'contribute to public finances'

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Immigrants to the UK since 2000 have made a "substantial" contribution to public finances, a report says.

The study by University College London said recent immigrants were less likely to claim benefits and live in social housing than people born in Britain.

The authors said rather than being a "drain", their contribution had been "remarkably strong".

The government said it was right to have strict rules in place to help protect the benefits system.

Immigrants who arrived after 1999 were 45% less likely to receive state benefits or tax credits than UK natives in the period 2000-2011, according to the report by Prof Christian Dustmann and Dr Tommaso Frattini from UCL's Centre for Research and Analysis of Migration.

They were also 3% less likely to live in social housing.

"These differences are partly explainable by immigrants' more favourable age-gender composition. However, even when compared to natives with the same age, gender composition, and education, recent immigrants are still 21% less likely than natives to receive benefits," the authors say.

'Highly-educated immigrants'

Those from the European Economic Area (EEA - the EU plus Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein) had made a particularly positive contribution in the decade up to 2011, contributing 34% more in taxes than they received in benefits.

Start Quote

"Given this evidence, claims about 'benefit tourism' by EEA immigrants seem to be disconnected from reality”

End Quote Report co-author Prof Christian Dustmann

Immigrants from outside the EEA contributed 2% more in taxes than they received in the same period, the report showed.

Over the same period, British people paid 11% less in tax than they received.

Despite the positive figures in the decade since the millennium, the study found that between 1995 and 2011, immigrants from non-EEA countries claimed more in benefits than they paid in taxes, mainly because they tended to have more children than native Britons.

The report also showed that in 2011, 32% of recent EEA immigrants and 43% of non-EEA immigrants had university degrees, compared with 21% of the British adult population.

Graph

The research used data from the British Labour Force Survey and government reports. Prof Dustmann said it had shown that "in contrast with most other European countries, the UK attracts highly-educated and skilled immigrants from within the EEA as well as from outside".

He added: "Our study also suggests that over the last decade or so, the UK has benefited fiscally from immigrants from EEA countries, who have put in considerably more in taxes and contributions than they received in benefits and transfers.

Start Quote

The real issue for the future is the very large numbers of low-paid immigrants from eastern Europe”

End Quote Sir Andrew Green, Migration Watch

"Given this evidence, claims about 'benefit tourism' by EEA immigrants seem to be disconnected from reality."

Sir Andrew Green of the pressure group Migration Watch said the report had "been spun".

"We've had roughly four million immigrants under the previous government - two-thirds of those were from outside the European Union," he told BBC Radio 4's Today programme.

He said the report found that, "since 1995, they have made a negative contribution overall".

He added: "So the verdict for non-EU is that the benefit to the exchequer is minimal or negative."

He accepted that "if you take the whole of the EU", the benefit was "clearly positive".

But Sir Andrew said this would be expected "because you are including German engineers, French fashion designers and - as it's the European Economic Area - even Swiss bankers [sic]".

"The real issue for the future is the very large numbers of low-paid immigrants from eastern Europe," he said.

He added: "The report looks backwards but doesn't look forwards.

"The professor's report does not take into account - no doubt for good reason - future health costs as migrants get older nor the pension bill, which is huge."

Career peak

Start Quote

It's absolutely right that we have strict rules in place to protect the integrity of the British benefits system to ensure it's not abused”

End Quote Government spokesman

Prof Dustmann told Today: "It is true that recent immigrants are younger but they are also much better educated.

"So they will take more out of the benefit system but they will also contribute more in the future because they have not yet reached their career peak and their full income potential.

"Of course, the more you earn, the more you pay in taxes."

A spokesman for the government said: "We welcome those that want to come here to contribute to the economy, but it's absolutely right that we have strict rules in place to protect the integrity of the British benefits system to ensure it's not abused."

Graph

He added that this was why the government was strengthening measures to ensure that benefits are only paid to people who are "legally allowed to live in Britain".

Meanwhile, a separate UCL study released on Tuesday warns that the government's target to cut net migration to the UK to the tens of thousands is "neither a useful tool nor a measure of policy effectiveness".

That report argues that actions to cut work-related, student and family migration have damaged the UK's reputation as a good place to work and study.

The 2011 census showed that 13% of the population of England and Wales was born outside the UK.

 

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  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 1806.

    I am a legal immigrant
    Real Problem is not immigration itself
    Problem is
    1. Uncontrolled and Unskilled immigration (This never happens Outside EU, all immigration from outside EU are Controlled and skilled ones)
    &
    2. Illegal Immigration (this where unskilled Non-EEA people coming from)
    we need to differentiate Legal and skilled from Illegal & unskilled immigrants.

  • rate this
    -10

    Comment number 1693.

    This story only confirms what most of us lready knew. It's a shame that everything has to be measured in economic terms these days. Britain is blessed with a genuine multi-culturalism that makes us the richest nation on earth. But it's a richness that has nothing to do with money.

  • rate this
    +20

    Comment number 1116.

    I just wonder if most people know ANYTHING about immigrating to the UK. I'm an immigrant (from an English speaking country) and I can say that I didn't find ANY part of the process easy. It was a lot of paperwork, a whole lot of documentation proving that I could support myself without accessing public funds, and a boat load of money. I'm on my 3rd visa (in 3 years) which has cost about £3000

  • rate this
    +61

    Comment number 701.

    This isn't news. We already know immigrants "make a net contribution". Legal immigrants that is. The media and the public are trying to divert attention from the problems they create if and when the sheer numbers get too high. i.e. The drain on public services and the fact that youth unemployment is being made worse by bringing in more people.

  • rate this
    +39

    Comment number 691.

    659. Dunnengel

    So true!

    I'm an immigrant.

    I moved here from South Africa when I was 18 and had a 2 jobs within a month, a full time job in a year, put myself through university after 3 years and now work in the city as a broker. I needed some extra cash recently so got a second job in catering within a week.

    There is simply no excuse to laze about without work. Move cities if you have to!

 

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