Immigration to Britain from Eastern Europe stalls

Woolas: More Eastern Europeans are now leaving the UK to return home 20th May 2009: The number of work applications from eight accession countries have fallen to their lowest level since they joined the European Union (EU) in 2004, according to statistics published today.

In the first three months of 2009 there were 23,000 applications from workers in Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, Hungary, Slovakia, Slovenia, Estonia and the Czech Republic – down from 48,755 in the same period in 2008. The decrease is mainly explained by a drop in Polish applicants, which fell to 12,000 in the first quarter of 2009 from 32,000 in the same period in 2008, the latest Accession Monitoring Report shows.

The statistics also show that the majority of workers coming from the A8 countries in the twelve months to March 2009 are young – 78 per cent were aged between 18 and 34 – and only eight per cent stated they had dependants living with them in the UK when they registered. In the same year 84 per cent of those registered were working for more than 35 hours per week.

Although applications for jobseekers allowance from A8 nationals rose in Q1 2009, of the 5,561 individuals who made applications, only 1,671 were put forward for further consideration.

Applications from Bulgarian and Romanian have also fallen to the lowest level since they joined the EU in 2007. There were 610 applications for accession worker cards and 6,205 applications for registration certificates in the first quarter of 2009.

Border and Immigration Minister Phil Woolas said: "Today’s figures show that immigration levels are balancing as more Eastern Europeans are now leaving the UK to return home. This suggests that increasing prosperity in post Soviet Eastern Europe in the long term can only be beneficial for the UK.

"In addition there are now, according to independent research, around 1.5 million British people working in other countries in the European Union. Nevertheless, the Government will continue to do everything it can to ensure that migration works for everyone."

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