Foreign labour helps Brown to meet targets on growth

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Indy Politics

Migrant workers account for 2 per cent of the UK's 30 million-strong workforce, contributing an estimated £2.54bn a year to the economy.

Estimates suggest 62 per cent of the new workers come from Poland, with 97 per cent working full time.

And, over the past two years, the influx of 600,000 migrant workers from eight former Soviet bloc nations who have joined the European Union has been crucial to the British economy.

Business advisers Grant Thornton concluded that without migrant workers Chancellor Gordon Brown's targets for economic growth would not have been met, as immigration has contributed 0.5 per cent to 1 per cent to UK economic growth in 2005 and 2006.

With 80 per cent of eastern European migrant workers aged between 18 and 35, research has suggested that they help to offset the problems associated with an ageing population, and that national insurance contributions would be higher if there was lower migration here.

Also, the rising numbers of immigrant workers are enabling the domestic workforce to move into better paid jobs, research by Legal and General has found. Immigration also helped to solve skill shortages. But while up to 10 per cent of building site employees are from overseas it is not only manual labour jobs that migrants are filling. One third of doctors working here are migrants, and 13 per cent of nurses were born abroad. Migrants fill almost 70 per cent of catering jobs, while 12.5 per cent of teachers are non-British, and more than 70,000 migrant workers help harvest farms.

Sainsbury's chairman Philip Hampton said: "Typically workers from eastern Europe are young, motivated and economically active. Contrary to some caricatures of immigrants, very few of them have claimed state benefits."