Does the UK really need EU migrants?

‘Brexit’ has caused concern for many people, particularly EU migrants who are currently residing in the United Kingdom. Angela Merkel and her other associates within the European Union are not budging on UK demands and insist on having free movement for their EU nationals. This begs the question really: does the UK really need EU migrants??

When focusing on European nationals, EEA (European Economic Area) citizens arriving in the UK had given a net fiscal contribution of £2.54bn between 2013-2014. Despite £560 million being given in child credit and so on, they have contributed over £3.11bn to the UK’s economy through work. With the ageing population of the United Kingdom not helping it’s effort for the economy to grow, it seems that it is a must that the more youthful and proactive individuals from the EU come to work on UK soil. EU migrants also make up a relatively large portion of the workforce for a range of industries within the UK. In the food manufacturing industry, for instance, 31% of the workforce is made up of EU migrants; the transportation and textile industry having 15% and 11% of the work population made up of EU nationals respectively. In addition, approximately 380,000 out of 2 million workers in the UK’s financial sector are made up of EU migrants. Clearly it is evident that EU nationals do have an important role in our economy, in contributing to taxes which can help local schools or in fixing roads, and filling in job vacancies.

Attitude to immigration in Britain’s perspective has been, however, quite negative with over 60% in 2013 believing immigration is an issue, according to figures released by Ipsos MORI. This is the highest of any other European nation with Slovakia, which is at second place, having only 46% of their population believing that immigration is an issue and not an opportunity. This attitude to immigration is not something new in Britain’s history, however. According to a study, in 1964, 85% of the population believed that there were too many immigrants. This decrease to 60% shows that the perception towards immigration does change over time. But why is there a negative perception of immigration in the first place? When I asked passers-by in a shopping centre in Kent, a region that had one of the highest number of votes for UKIP in the 2016 general election, about why they had a negative perception towards immigration the overall consensus that I had heard were that EU migrants were lowering salaries and taking jobs. A report from the London School of Economics had suggested however that “the big fall in wages after 2008 are due to the global financial crisis and a weak economic recovery, not immigration.” Also, jobs are open to everyone and so an EU migrant have no additional advantage over UK nationals other than their own personal characteristics.

EU migrants it seems are therefore quite beneficial to the UK’s economy. With the ‘Brexit’ negotiations underway it is hopeful that the UK’s parliament make efforts to respect free movement so that the UK’s economy continues to grow. The next thing that we don’t want is another recession…

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