Eastern European immigrants contributed £5 billion to the UK’s economy in a little over a decade, according to new research.
A study by University College London suggested that between 2000 and 2011, the immigrants paid more than 12 per cent more money into the public purse than they received in benefits.
The research looked at the impact of those coming to Britain from Romania, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Slovakia and Slovenia – the so-called ‘A10’ nations who have joined the European Union since 2004.
It found that the immigrants were, on average, better educated than UK natives and actually more likely to be employed.
The report’s authors claim that the results debunk suggestions that Britain is being flooded by “benefit tourists”, who have no intention of finding work.
Professor Christian Dustmann, a co-author of the study, said: “A key concern in the public debate on migration is whether immigrants contribute their fair share to the tax and welfare systems.
“Our new analysis draws a positive picture of the overall fiscal contribution made by recent immigrant cohorts, particularly of immigrants arriving from the EU.
“European immigrants, particularly, both from the new accession countries and the rest of the European Union, make the most substantial contributions. This is mainly down to their higher average labour market participation compared with natives and their lower receipt of welfare benefits.”
But ahead of this month’s crucial by-election in Rochester and Strood, where immigration is likely to be one of the key battlegrounds, some politicians have been dismissive of the research.
UKIP leader Nigel Farage, a vociferous critic of the EU’s freedom of movement laws, described the report as “pretty spurious stuff.”
While Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith was concerned the statistics only examined the economic benefits of immigration, overlooking issues such as integration.