Migrant workers boost economy by £120m

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Indy Politics

Workers from former Iron Curtain countries that have just joined the European Union have already boosted the economy by £120m and helped tackle jobs shortages, David Blunkett said yesterday.

Workers from former Iron Curtain countries that have just joined the European Union have already boosted the economy by £120m and helped tackle jobs shortages, David Blunkett said yesterday.

The widening of the EU to take in eight east European nations brought warnings that thousands of "benefit tourists" would be drawn to Britain.

The Home Secretary said more than 90,000 people from those eight nations had registered to live and work in this country in the five months since the EU expanded on 1 May.

Critics said the influx was far higher than ministers' original forecast of up to 13,000 a year. But Mr Blunkett countered that the new arrivals had had a positive impact, with 96 per cent in full-time work.

A total of 90,950 people from former Soviet bloc states joined the worker registration scheme, which was created before EU expansion by the Government amid fears of economic migrants heading for Britain. Ministers said 45 per cent of the east Europeans who registered had already been in the country, and probably working illegally.

The workers had contributed £120m to the gross domestic product (GDP) in five months, likely to rise to about £200m in a year, and had so far paid £20m in tax and national insurance.

Thirty per cent had worked in the hospitality and catering industries in such jobs as kitchen assistants, waiters and bar staff, all areas where employers struggle to fill vacancies. Another 20 per cent were in office or business work, while 17 per cent worked in agriculture, although their numbers dropped sharply at the end of the summer.

The Home Office statistics showed a tiny proportion of the new arrivals claimed income-related benefits and all but 16 were rejected. Fourteenwere given a council house, 0.02 per cent of the average number of lettings to new tenants over the period. The largest category of successful benefit applications was for child benefit - 1,018 applications were approved and 471 rejected.

Mark Oaten, the Liberal Democrat home affairs spokesman, said: "These figures suggest a managed process that reflects the UK's economic demand for immigration."

But David Davis, the shadow Home Secretary, said: "Regardless of how the Government tries to spin these figures, the fact is our immigration system is still a shambles."

The chairman of right-wing immigration think-tank Migrationwatch UK, Sir Andrew Green, said of the 91,000 total: "At an annual rate it is seven times the Government's maximum prediction of 13,000."

* Mr Blunkett also pledged a new crackdown on immigrants being used as "domestic slaves". In just one month this summer, 220 people from Eritrea in east Africa claimed asylum because their passports were confiscated by their employers.

WHO IS HERE AND WHAT ARE THEY DOING?

Where they registered:

London 19,225 (23.8%)

East Anglia 15,145 (18.8%)

South-central 9,280 (11.5%)

South-east 7,985 (10%)

Midlands 6,595 (8.2%)

South-west 5,570 (6.9%)

Scotland 5,165 (6.4%)

North-west 3,865 (4.8%)

North-east 3,140 (3.9%)

Northern Ireland 1,890 (2.3%)

Wales 945 (1.2%)

Not stated 1,930 (2.4%)

Where they came from:

Poland 48,595 (55.7%)

Lithuania 14,590 (16.7%)

Slovakia 8,395 (9.6%)

Latvia 6,145 (7%)

Czech Republic 5,675 (6.5%)

Hungary 2,310 (2.6%)

Estonia 1,340 (1.5%)

Slovenia 115 (0.1%)

The jobs they do:

The highest numbers are in manual work such as factory jobs (6,855), packing (2,265), cleaning (2,140), farm labouring (2,110), warehouse work (1,295), building sites (1,085). East Europeans have filled jobs in catering and hospitality, working as kitchen assistants (3,035), waiters (2,745), hotel maids (1,745) and bar staff (1,095). More than 1,000 have taken jobs in the health sector - most as care home assistants - and more than 200 as childminders or nursery nurses. Others work as window cleaners, circus performers, actors, surgeons, accountants and bouncers.

...and how many are claiming benefits?

Just 16 migrants.

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