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Exodus of Eastern Europeans ‘makes marginal difference’

More Eastern Europeans may be leaving, but there are still more than five years ago 28 May 2009: The number of workers from Eastern Europe leaving the UK has nearly doubled in the year to September 2008, but the ‘exodus’ will not make much of a difference, local government experts have predicted.

With more than a million long term immigrants having entered the UK over the past five years, the increase in the number leaving – 56,000 last year, compared to 25,000 in the previous year – will only make a “marginal” difference, the experts insist.

The assertion comes at a time when speculation is rife that Britain’s recovery from the recession is likely to be hit by a fall in the number of immigrant workers.

A group of economic forecasters had only recently apprehended the reduction in their numbers threatened to create skills shortages and hold back the recovery.

The impact of shortage of qualified staff would reflect itself not only on gross domestic product growth, but also threatened to obstruct efforts to rebalance the economy, with more manufacturing and less financial and other services, it was asserted.

Local Government Association head of data and statistics, Peter Norris, says: “The numbers moving out are in some ways at the margins. We still have significantly larger numbers of people here, than we did five years ago; and this population has become ever more diverse.”

Norris asserts there are concerns over the validity of a lot of immigration statistics; and that getting this right was imperative for good service provision and to ensure councils get a fair grant settlement.

The large numbers of ‘A8’ workers – those from the eight countries who joined the European Union in 2004 such as the Czech Republic and Poland – quitting the UK has been seen as the clearest sign yet that the recession is stemming the flow of mass immigration.

In the year up to September 2008, London saw the largest net outflow to other parts of the country with 55,900 quitting the capital to move elsewhere, while the South West had the largest net inflow with 22,900 moving in from the rest of the country.

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