European immigrants contribute £5bn to UK economy but non-EU migrants 'cost £118bn'

A report found that overall immigration was positive for Britain's finances

Lizzie Dearden
Wednesday 05 November 2014 12:02

Immigrants from Poland and the other nine countries that joined the EU in 2004 have contributed almost £5 billion more to the UK’s economy than they used in benefits and public services.

Analysis by the University College London Centre for Research and Analysis of Migration found that while the fiscal contribution by European workers was overwhelmingly positive – amounting to £20 billion in a decade – the same was not true for non-EEA arrivals.

Between 1995 and 2011, immigrants from outside the EU made a negative contribution of £118 billion over 17 years, the report found, using more publicly-funded services, including the NHS, education and benefits, than they paid in tax.

But native Britons also received more than they contributed in the same 17-year period – amounting to a cost of £591 billion as the national deficit grew - and European arrivals gave a £4.4 billion boost.

The report said the gulf between arrivals from inside and outside of the EU could partly be explained by the large number of children had by non-EEA immigrants, as the cost of their education was counted but as the children were UK-born, their subsequent tax contributions were not factored into the report.

Migrants who arrived since 2000 were 43 per cent less likely than UK-born workers to receive state benefits or tax credits and 7 per cent less likely to live in social housing.

While the employment rate has been slightly higher for EEA immigrants since the mid-2000s, it was lower for those from outside of the EU.

Christian Dustmann, the centre’s director and a co-author of the study, said: “Immigration to the UK since 2000 has been of substantial net fiscal benefit, with immigrants contributing more than they have received in benefits and transfers. This is true for immigrants from Central and Eastern Europe as well as the rest of the EU.”

Those from the post-2004 European countries of Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Slovak Republic and Slovenia are the most financially beneficial.

Jonathan Portes, the director of the National Institute of Economic and Social Research, said: “This confirms once again that the increase in immigration to the UK of the past decade, both from Europe and outside, has benefited UK citizens. Ministers and politicians from all sides ought to look at the evidence before seeking to restrict free movement of workers.”

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