Victoria Ward, Telegraph (London), May 2, 2011
The British economy has failed to benefit from the influx of eastern European migrants, according to a think-tank report.
It also concluded that the immigrants were here to stay, despite restrictions being lifted in Germany.
The findings were described as “the final nail in the coffin” for Labour’s immigration policy and proof that the previous government was wrong not to impose controls following the expansion of the European Union in 2004.
The National Institute of Economic and Social Research (NIESR) said migrant workers had boosted output by just 0.38 per cent in the years to 2009 and had an “insignificant” impact on growth.
About 700,000 migrants moved to Britain from the eight Eastern European countries that joined the EU in 2004 and the two that joined in 2007, the report said. During the same period, Britain’s GDP grew by £98 billion, or 7.7 per cent, for which migrants were responsible for a 5 per cent share.
But although the barriers were lifted yesterday in Germany and Austria, the only two countries in Europe to have maintained restrictions on the free movement of workers from these states, experts predicted that those settled in Britain were unlikely to move.
Dawn Holland, one of the report’s authors, said: “Lifting barriers in Germany may divert some Polish and other workers away from the UK, especially given the relative strength of the German economy.
“But as the existence of support networks for new migrants is one of the most important factors, much of the shift in migrants since 2004 is likely to prove permanent.”
She said the impact of migration from countries such as Poland, Romania and Lithuania on UK national output was “insignificant to a large extent”.
Sir Andrew Green of Migration Watch said the report provided “clear evidence” that the contribution of migrants was trivial. “This is an astonishing conclusion which blows out of the water many of the arguments made for years by the immigration lobby,” he said
“The 700,000 East Europeans who have arrived since 2004 have added 1 per cent to our population but only about one third of 1 per cent to production.
“Some employers have benefited from cheap, hard-working labour but the gain to our economy as a whole has been insignificant. This is the final nail in the coffin of Labour’s immigration policy.”
Damian Green, the Immigration Minister, said recently that any state joining the EU would face the most “stringent controls” on access to the labour market, which would mean a bar on working in Britain for seven years.