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14 Oct, 2013 08:44

UK sees massive rise in unemployed migrants from EU

UK sees massive rise in unemployed migrants from EU

There has been a 42 percent increase in the number of unemployed EU migrants residing in the UK, now totaling 600,000, an EU study has said. The findings come as the government moves to introduce strict measures to crack down on immigration.

The EU report, obtained by British newspaper The Sunday Telegraph, showed the number of unemployed migrants had increased drastically over the past five years. The influx of jobless EU citizens has put the UK social welfare system under strain, and has cost the National Health Service (NHS) an estimated $2.4 billion.

Furthermore, the study reports that the increase in unemployed EU migrants over the three years leading to 2011 was even sharper, shooting up by 73 percent.  The majority of migrants come from Eastern European countries in the EU, namely Poland, Lithuania, the Czech Republic and Slovakia.

A large number of migrants are also arriving from Mediterranean nations such as Greece and Portugal, where the economic crisis is deepest and unemployment among young people – those most likely to migrate – is often over 50 percent.

“A particularly high increase can be noticed between 2009 and 2011,” the study says. “The number of job-seeking EU migrants increased by 73 percent between 2008 and 2011, while the total EU migrant population (active and non-active) increased by only 28 percent.”

Addressing claims that many EU citizens flock to the UK to take advantage of its benefits system, the report writes there is “little evidence” to support the assertion. It also refers to the practice of benefit tourism as “a myth.”

The subject of rising immigration has been the subject of heated public debate recently with politicians calling for a government crackdown. In the wake of the new figures, London Mayor Boris Johnson called on Prime Minister David Cameron to modify British law to delay migrants’ access to benefits.

“We have no control over the time lapse between arrival in this country to work and the ability to withdraw benefits,” Johnson told the Daily Mail, adding it was “something that could be considered by the government for the renegotiation of the European Treaty that is about to come up.”

The UK government has put forward a new immigration bill to prevent unemployed immigrants claiming social benefits. The legislation is expected to become law in spring 2014.

"The Immigration Bill will stop migrants using public services to which they are not entitled, reduce the pull factors which encourage people to come to the UK and make it easier to remove people who should not be here,” Immigration Minister Mark Harper told the BBC last week.

The bill will also permit the UK authorities to “deport foreign criminals first and hear their appeal later.”

‘Undermining British people’

Robert Oulds, from the Bruges Group think tank, told RT that the wave of migrants from Eastern Europe was undermining the British people because immigrants were willing to work for less and were therefore driving down salaries.

“Of course, not everybody that is coming here is coming here for work. Some are coming here to use the NHS which is free at the point of delivery and some are claiming benefits,” he told RT.

Oulds said that perhaps leaving the EU would be a better course of action than the current “open door policy.”

The information divulged by the Telegraph is part of a wider report that will be released by the EU this week. The 291-page report by the European Commissioner for Employment and Welfare examines the effect of mass migration in a climate of crisis on the UK.