Alex Massie Alex Massie

The Myth of the Immigrant Benefit-Moocher, Part Two

I am afraid, dear reader, that I have misled you. Yesterday’s post on immigrants and benefit-claimants contained an inaccuracy. I repeated a claim I’d seen in the Telegraph that there are almost 14,000 Polish-born people claiming unemployment benefit in Britain. This is not the case. The true picture of Polish benefit-dependency is very different.

There are, in fact, fewer than 7,000 Poles claiming the Job Seekers’ Allowance. Indeed, there are fewer than 13,000 JSA claimants from the “Accession Eight” countries (Poland, Czech Republic, Hungary, Slovakia, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia and Slovenia). Whatever else these eastern europeans have been doing in Britain, they’ve not been mooching off the benefits system. And it is a lie – dirty and simple – to suggest they are.  There are, in fact, twice as many benefit claimants from “old” europe as there are from “new” europe. (See Table 2 here for confirmation.)

To stick with the Poles for a moment. There are more than half a million Polish-born people living in the UK. Some 6,390 of them, according to this DWP report from last year, are claiming the JSA. A further 4,390 are receiving ESA and incapacity benefits and 800 take advantage of lone parent benefits. Poland is the only country from eastern europe that features in the top 20 nationalities in any of these categories. (Table 4, linked above. Of course, today’s figures may be a little different. But you get the general idea, I think.)

Now, perhaps Romanian and Bulgarian workers seeking better lives for themselves in Britain will avoid the Polish route but there seems little obvious reason for thinking so. Precedent is against the doom-sayers and panic-sowers. That does not mean their fears must prove mistaken but they’ve failed  – thus far anyway – to offer any persuasive analysis supporting their fears that Britain will be “swamped” by a tide of benefit-spongeing Bulgars.

But, but, but, splutter the critics, what about the services they consume? Don’t all these eastern european migrant workers seeking better, more prosperous lives for themselves cost the British state more than they give? Shouldn’t they only be allowed to remain in this country if they prove themselves net contributors? Whatabout this? Whatabout this? Whataboutery everywhere.

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