Sharp fall in number of Eastern European immigrants

78 per cent of them aged between 18 and 34

24th February 2009: There is a sharp fall in the number of Eastern European immigrants coming to work in the UK, official report from the Home Office shows.

Work applications from the eight accession countries fell to their lowest level since they joined the European Union (EU) in 2004.

In the last three months of last year, there were 29,000 applications from workers from Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, Hungary, Slovakia, Slovenia, Estonia and the Czech Republic. In the same period in 2007 there were 53,000 applications.

The decrease is mainly explained by a drop in approved Polish applicants, which fell to 16,000 in the last quarter of 2008 from 36,000 in the same period in 2007. The fall in the number of Eastern Europeans coming to work in UK shows the effects the financial crisis is having on the country’s labour market.

The statistics also show that the majority of workers coming from the A8 countries in 2008 were young – 78 per cent were aged between 18 and 34 – and only 11 per cent stated they had dependants living with them in the UK when they registered.
Of those registered in 2008, 86 per cent were working for more than 35 hours per week.

Although applications for jobseekers allowance from A8 nationals rose in the last quarter of 2008, of the 2,540 who made applications only 832 were put forward for further consideration.

The Bulgarian and Romanian Accession Statistics show that applications from these two countries have also fallen. There were 920 applications for accession worker cards and 6,990 applications for registration certificates in the last quarter of 2008. For the same period in 2007 the figures were 1,260 and 8,845 respectively.

Border and Immigration Minister Phil Woolas said: "The number of Eastern Europeans coming here to work is dramatically falling and research suggests that many of those that came have now gone home. Nevertheless, the Government is doing everything it can to ensure migration is working for the British labour market and the country as a whole.

"We have already demonstrated the flexibility of the points system through the suspension of the low-skilled worker tier and our plans to toughen up the existing Resident Labour Market test for employers. This will ensure that during these economic times, when people are losing jobs, people already here have the first crack of the whip at getting work."

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