Strewth mate. Aussies wave goodbye to Britain as it becomes too pricey to stay
The recession has seen Australian expats leave in droves, damaging a specialist economy
Emily Dugan is social affairs correspondent for The Independent, i and Independent on Sunday. She was previously a news reporter for The Independent on Sunday. Her investigations into human trafficking have twice been awarded Best Investigative Article at the Anti-Slavery Day Media Awards and her human rights journalism was shortlisted for the Gaby Rado Memorial prize at the 2012 Amnesty Media Awards.
Monday 20 May 2013
Take the shrimps off the barbie and put the stubbies back in the fridge: the Aussies are leaving Britain and the companies which served them are going bust.
The Australian population in Britain shrank by 22,000 between 2010 and 2011, according to the latest government figures. Tighter immigration laws, an unfavourable exchange rate and the greater impact of the recession in Britain have made leaving the sun behind a less attractive proposition. (And besides, the Ashes are just around the corner, which they might want to miss.)
Spending several years working in the UK as a base to explore Europe used to be a rite of passage for young Australians and New Zealanders. But now the practice is on the wane – and the shops, pubs and cafes which sprung up to cater for them are going under.
The original Walkabout pub in London’s Covent Garden closed earlier this year. It was Britain’s first Aussie bar, opening first as The Outback and trading as Walkabout for the last 18 years. It is one of a whole string of pubs catering to Antipodeans which has shut its doors over the last year, including The Redback Tavern, the Billabong bar in Wimbledon and the Finchley Road London outlet of the Walkabout chain.
Jumbuck’s Aussie Pie Co in Shepherd’s Bush, west London, is also struggling to survive with fewer customers. Its owner, Nabil Bouri, said: "Last year we felt the decline but it wasn’t a killer. But since Christmas the business has fallen off a cliff and we’re trading at between 40 and 50 per cent of the level we are at last year. The Government has tightened up on granting visas to professionals, which is attacking the number of people coming in, so companies like ours, whose business is based around Kiwis and Aussies, are suffering."
The Australia Shop, which has sold imported Australian food and patriotic goods in Covent Garden for 18 years, was forced to close last month after business slowed to a trickle.
It is set to reopen as a cafe after a last-minute investment from backers, but its owner, Elizabeth Mills, is still worried about its future: "Times have been tough. Our retail was down about 30 per cent on the same time last year," she said.
"There are fewer Australians that seem to be coming over – and if they are coming they’re clearly not spending anything. The exchange rate is also a problem: the pound is really down against the dollar and we buy lots of things from Australian suppliers."
The numbers of Aussies arriving in Britain decreased by 50 per cent in the decade to 2011, with only 26,000 choosing to come here that year. In the same year, 48,000 Australians left the UK – an increase of 20 per cent from 2010.
The Britain-Australia Society estimates it had a 30 per cent drop in membership over the last year and now has about 700 members.
Its director, Dale Eaton, said: "The reduction was mainly middle-income earners who can earn more in Australia than here. The quality of life in Australia has increased and wages are good so people either repatriate or choose not to leave Australia. Australian businesses in London are struggling or closing down as a result."
Dux Balendran, 29, is an Australian physiotherapist who moved back to Melbourne a year ago. He spent three years in Britain working and doing a masters degree. He said: "The pound to dollar value has dropped over the last 10 years, so it is not worth earning pounds and bringing them back here.
"Also, the salaries in Australia are higher and the job market and standard of living are better. This diminished the appeal for many to live in London and travel. They are happy to go on regular holidays as the airfare to Europe has also fallen because of increased competition."
- 1 Emma Watson on Jennifer Lawrence naked photo leak: 'Even worse than seeing women's privacy violated is reading the comments'
- 2 Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb
- 3 A teacher speaks out: 'I'm effectively being forced out of a career that I wanted to love'
- 4 Cee Lo Green: It is only rape if the victim is conscious
- 5 Katie Hopkins breaks down in tears over weight gain challenge: ‘I hate fat people for making me do this’
Rotherham child sex abuse scandal: Labour Home Office to be probed over what Tony Blair's government knew - and when
What do immigrants really think of Britain? Polish immigrant's Reddit post goes viral
Ashya King: Parents of five-year-old boy refused permission to visit him in hospital and denied bail at Spanish court
With Douglas Carswell joining Ukip, my party has taken another giant step forward
When elitism grips the top of British society to this extent, there is only one answer: abolish private schools
Ashya King: 'Cruel NHS has not given us the treatment we need', says father of five-year-old with brain tumour who fled to Spain
£30000 - £45000 per annum + benefits+bonus+package: Harrington Starr: Front-Of...
£700 per day: Harrington Starr: Quantitative Developer C++, Python, STL, R, PD...
£700 per day: Harrington Starr: Java/Calypso Developer Java, Calypso, J2EE, J...
£500 per day: Harrington Starr: SQL Developer SQL, C#, Stored Procedures, MDX...