Immigration has been at the centre of the the EU referendum campaign. Cosmopolita Scotland has gathered a selection of facts and opinions from both sides of the political debate to do our own factcheck.
Laura Medina y Tanausú Vilches
Various claims have been made about migration to the UK during the EU Referendum debates. Cosmopolita Scotland has compiled some of them and contrasted them against facts from independent studies:
- Immigration – a topic that has been at the centre of the Brexit debate – is one of the top concerns for British citizens. A sturdy 76% of the population considers the current figures on immigration alarming. How much access EU citizens have to welfare benefits in the UK has been a hot topic throughout the campaign. A report from the Migration Observatory at the University of Oxford states that a majority of European citizens do not benefit from this financial aid and those who do impact very little on the economy. This report suggests that 10-20% of adults from the EU received financial help from the state, at the beginning of 2014.
- The net migration figure in the U.K rose to 330.000 between April 2014 and March 2015 (184.000 from the EU). According to the Office for National Statistics, this is a record figure, showing an increase of 39.4% compared to figures from the previous year. At the same time, the U.K has the fifth largest economy in the world. It has a current employment rate of 74,2% – the highest since 1971 – and its unemployment rate of 5% has recently fallen to its lowest since 2005.
- The United Kingdom will have to address a shortfall of more than one million care workers by 2037, according to a report by Independent Age and the International Longevity Centre-UK. The same study confirmed that very few Brits consider these kind of jobs worthy, due to the poor working conditions. The organisation called for the British Government to open its borders to lesser-skilled workers, as they predict they will need over 200.000 employees for jobs such as these by the end of the current Parliament.
- There are 2.1 million EU citizens working in the U.K. This figure represents 6.8% of the employed population of the country, a percentage that was off at 4.8% in 2013 and at 2.6% ten years ago. According to the Office for National Statistics, there are almost 28 million British workers in the UK and just 3 million foreigners. Experts from London School of Economics state that there is little evidence that immigration will lower wages and increase unemployment.
- Out of the total number of EU citizens working in the UK, 600,000 work for the public sector. Additionally, 40,000 out of the 600,000 work for the National Health System. According to the Migration Observatory at the University of Oxford, the sustainability of some key areas of the public sector depends heavily on European migration. The government’s Migration Advisory Committee states that most of the 8000 foreign-born nurses recruited in the last five years are from EU countries. Nursing is an official shortage occupation in the U.K.
- Britain leaving the EU would not necessarily create a decrease in EU migrants living and working in the UK, according to FactCheck report by Channel 4. However, it will most likely mean that the U.K must reach some kind of agreement related to “freedom of movement” in Europe, as previously done by countries such as Iceland, Norway and Switzerland.