Romanians in the UK: the new stream of immigrants

An attempt to estimate the real number of Romanian nationals in the UK 10 November 2008. More than 120 Romanian and Bulgarian immigrants are arriving in Britain every day, the Home Office revealed.

Every day a new Romanian shop, cleaning service, building company is being opened across the United Kingdom.

A first attempt to estimate the Romanian population in the UK is based on official figures. The Embassy of Romania states that around 40,500 Romanian nationals have applied for a document to confirm the right to work in the UK during the first 18 months following Romania’s accession to the EU.

Less than 33 thousand actually gained the access on the labour market through the various routes admitted by the UK immigration legislation since January 1st 2007. 10% of them have taken advantage of the agricultural worker scheme and come in for seasonal work. In addition, a sizeable number of newcomers are thought to be self-employed and not registered as workers, mainly in the construction and services industries.

More than 2,300 Romanians have enrolled in training programmes in the UK in the past 15 months following the EU accession, while many others are studying at highly ranked universities throughout the UK. About 100 Romanian students are currently enrolled at the University of Cambridge and Oxford.

This official figure estimated by the Romanian Embassy is around 50 thousand. However, due to EU treaty rights regarding freedom of movement, it’s not hard to assume that the total number of Romanian nationals to the UK by Romanian nationals is much larger.

These statistics do not include the full number of Romanians who have entered the UK; they are only the numbers granted official documents to work in the UK.

“Romanian organizations quote figures ranging from 100 to 200 thousand nationals in the UK”, says Sorin Cehan, editor-in-chief of Ziarul Romanesc , the Romanian weekly in the UK, “My research allows me to estimate probably half that number, 150 thousand.”

However, the result of similar efforts at estimation in Italy would favour a different interpretation, “In Italy statistics went widely off target,” Mr.Cehan adds, “While officially statistics claimed 300 thousand Romanian nationals in Italy, the real numbers later revealed more than 1 million actually there. There might be a pattern to learn from that experience.”

Other data
• Romanian nationals fill vacancies that couldn’t be filled up by British nationals throughout England, Scotland or Northern Ireland, in fields such as health and medicine, education, constructions or agriculture;
• Romanian and Bulgarian nationals work on average 4 hours a day more than the UK nationals;
• The employment rate among the Romanians in the UK is of 94%, which is more than 10% higher than the employment rate among the A8 workers, and around 20% higher than the employment rate among the British nationals.
• 98.0% of National Insurance Numbers allocated to the A2 nationals were for employment purposes, 1.3% for benefit purposes and 0.6% for tax credit purposes.
• Romanians in the UK overwhelmingly tend to be young; more than 70% are aged 18 – 35. This demographic is generally recognised as making minor demands on health and education services.
• A significant number of Romanian nationals are bringing their direct contribution to the well functioning of the public services in the UK. More than 600 Romanian well trained experts are now enrolled within the NHS services throughout the UK;
• An overwhelming majority of the Romanian nationals have paid taxes and social contributions in the UK whereas an insignificant number have claimed any support from the UK public system.
• Restricting the access to the labour market may drive some of the Romanians into the grey economy with negative consequences deriving from this status.

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