Britain’s reliance on EU workers laid bare in official trade figures

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[This is very obvious when you visit there; every hotel and shop has someone from Eastern Europe behind the counter. *RON*]

Richard Ford, The Times, 13 April 2017

The new figures show the importance of migrant workers to the UK’s retail and hotel industries DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS/AFP/GETTY IMAGES
More than half a million EU citizens were employed in Britain’s retail, hotel and restaurant industries last year, according to a government study published yesterday — highlighting the country’s reliance on migrant labour.

A further 400,000 EU citizens worked in the financial and business services sector, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

It reported that migrants from eastern Europe were likely to work more hours and earn lower wages than other workers, including Britons. It found a split between migrants from western EU states and those from the poorer, eastern European countries that have joined the union since 2004.

Migrants from states such as France and Germany were more likely to have a university degree, to be higher paid and to work in a job that matched their education. The difference was reflected in wage levels, with those from the original EU member states earning an average of £12.59 an hour compared with UK national average earnings of £11.30 an hour and those from eastern Europe earning £8.33p an hour.

About 100,000 EU citizens were unemployed and 288,000 were economically inactive last year — retired, disabled or looking after a family.

The study highlights the government’s challenge as it develops an immigration policy that does not damage industries reliant on migrant labour.

Anna Bodey, migration analyst for the ONS, said: “The analysis shows the significant impact international migration has on the UK labour market. It is particularly important to the wholesale and retail, hospitality, and public administration and health sectors, which employ 1.5 million non-UK nationals.

“Migrants from eastern Europe, Bulgaria and Romania are likely to work more hours and earn lower wages than other workers, partly reflecting their numbers in lower-skilled jobs. Many EU migrants are also more likely to be over-educated for the jobs they are in.”

Eleven per cent of the 30.3 million workers in the country last year were non-British. Most were employed in low-skilled jobs, the report said. Half of workers from Poland, Latvia, Lithuania, Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Slovakia and Slovenia, and nearly two thirds from Romania and Bulgaria, worked more than 40 hours a week. Only a third of British citizens did.

Alp Mehmet, vice-chairman of Migration Watch UK, said: “Business must focus on recruiting from the domestic workforce and wean itself off the cheaper east European option.”

The Home Office said that it was working with businesses to improve understanding of the challenges and opportunities of Brexit. The aim was to “design a new immigration system that works in the national interest and ensures employers have access to the skills they need”.

• A majority of the British public want to see the same number or more international students coming to the UK, and do not see overseas students as immigrants, according to a poll for Universities UK. Sixty-four per cent thought that international students had a positive impact on local economies.


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