“Claims about ‘benefit tourism’ by EEA immigrants seem to be disconnected from reality.”

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A new report, published today by the Centre for Research and Analysis of Migration (CReAM) at University College London, provides evidence that UK immigrants who arrived since 2000 are less likely to receive benefits and less likely to live in social housing than UK natives.

In fact, over the decade from 2001 to 2011, immigrants from the European Economic Area (EEA) contributed about 34% more in tax than they received in benefits, and thus helped to relieve the tax burden on UK-born workers.

The research report – written by Professor Christian Dustmann and Dr Tommaso Frattini from CReAM – analysed the contribution of EEA immigrants in each year since 1995. Its main findings are that:

  • Recent immigrants (those who arrived after 1999 and who made up 33% of the overall immigrant population in the UK in 2011) were 45% less likely to receive state benefits or tax credits than UK natives over the period 2000-11. They were also 3% less likely to live in social housing.
  • Over the same period, recent EEA immigrants have on average contributed 34% more in taxes than they have received as benefits. Recent immigrants from countries outside the EEA have contributed 2% more in taxes than they have received as transfers.
  • In contrast, over the same period, the total of UK natives’ tax payments were 11% lower than the benefits they received.
  •  Recent immigrants are also far better educated than natives: in 2011, 32% of recent EEA immigrants and 43% of recent non-EEA immigrants had a university degree. The comparable figure for UK natives is 21%.

The number of EEA immigrants in employment is far higher than those of UK-born people and a much smaller receive welfare benefits.  In other words they put considerably more into the economy than they take out.

Professor Christian Dustmann, director of CReAM and co-author of the study, said:

“Our research shows that in contrast with most other European countries, the UK attracts highly educated and skilled immigrants from within the EEA as well as from outside.

“What’s more, immigrants who arrived since 2000 have made a very sizeable net fiscal contribution and therefore helped to reduce the fiscal burden on UK-born workers.

“Our study also suggests that over the last decade or so, the UK has benefited fiscally from immigrants from EEA countries, who have put in considerably more in taxes and contributions than they received in benefits and transfers.

“Given this evidence, claims about ‘benefit tourism’ by EEA immigrants seem to be disconnected from reality.”

Download the report here

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