There seems to be a sudden influx of Polish immigrants into the UK, what with a steep-1200% increase in the number of approved applications during the last five years. The Polish immigrants must be a happy lot with them figuring in the top ten nationalities of foreign-born folks becoming eligible for British passports as recent as a couple of years ago. Over 6,000 applicants received from Polish immigrants have been approved by the Home Office last year, a far cry from the 458 in 2009.
This seems to be quite an unusual development because very few members of the European Union are keen on getting British citizenship, as they already enjoy rights to be here and seek employment as well. Of course, the people who support migration of other nationals, especially the Polish nationals are happy with this development. The chairman of MigrationWatch Lord Green believes this is a welcome and positive sign and will help in strongly integrating Polish community.
Some experts believe this is a knee-jerk reaction from the Poles, who are migrating in large numbers to the UK, what with the referendum looming large, and rumours that the UK is leaving the European Union for good. In the worst case scenario they stand to lose a lot of benefits, and by becoming UK citizens they are protected from whatever changes the British Prime Minister David Cameron plans to bring in if the referendum were to swing his way. He is of the firm opinion that the UK should continue to be a member of the European Union. He is also of the opinion that migrants to the EU need to at least for four years before they can start enjoying in-work benefits like tax credits.
Once the Polish nationals become citizens of the United Kingdom, they will automatically get the right to vote in the general elections. There have been many instances where some Poles have taken the marriage route to citizenship by marrying British citizens and having children. Such people will certainly take British citizenship and settle in the United Kingdom. Under normal circumstances an immigrant would need to live in the country for a minimum period of five years before being eligible to apply for citizenship. The very first rush of Poles to the UK started in 2004, and that was when the borders of the EU started spreading eastwards.
The year 2009 witnessed the first new lot of Polish immigrants who were entitled to obtain citizenship, and 458 of them were lucky to get approval and become British citizens. This figure jumped to 1,419 in just a year. The figures rose rapidly with 2012 having 3000-odd immigrants being granted citizenship. All this doesn’t come cheap though, because the flux of immigrants from Europe has cost the Exchequer £3 million a day in 2015. According to Migration Watch UK (hardline campaigners seeking harsher border controls) claim that the total cost incurred on account of immigrants last year was a whopping £1.2 billion.
While the immigrants did contribute their mite by paying taxes to the Exchequer, the £1.2 billion expense was because of the benefits extended, including public services like NHS. However, one consoling fact is that the immigrants, who have entered Britain since 2001, including several Poles and other nationals from eastern European countries, haven’t been a drain on the Exchequer as they have been somewhat “cost neutral”. In fact, the immigrants who have come in during the last 15 years have balanced the welfare expenses incurred on their behalf with the taxes they have been paying.
However, Lord Green Chairman of MigrationWatch feels that the overall effect of migration in such large scales has a somewhat negative fiscal contribution, which has been emphasized on many occasions. There is also the immense pressure the influx is having on housing and other public services, which are almost bursting at the seams. The immigration of foreigners (Europeans) also contributes to a steady increase in the country’s population by half a million every year. It is not just the immigrants coming in from the European Union that causes concern, there are several more immigrants streaming into the country from the other Commonwealth countries, and the influx that started after the war still continues. When taken as a whole, the cost to the Exchequer is quite large when compared to the costs incurred through immigrants from the European Union alone.
The total drain on the British Exchequer last year on account of migrants pouring in from all over the world was a hefty £17 billion, which works out to £46.5 million per day. There have been migrants living in the UK right from the sixties, and the ones still alive are pensioners for whom the State spends heavily on healthcare.
Dr. Michal Garapich who is a senior lecturer at the University of Roehampton’s Centre for Research on Migration believes that the rush in Polish immigrants moving to Britain is due to the impending referendum which will decide whether UK will continue to be part of the European Union. The Poles are more worried about their social rights and want to make an impact politically as well. Whenever there is talk about the referendum by the Tories, which implies the inevitable exit of Britain from the European Union, the Poles become nervous and insecure. This is all the more reason for them to seek naturalization as soon as possible, so that they can settle down with good jobs and raise families.
The ranks of immigrants from various countries is pretty interesting with the top rank going to India which has 36,000-odd approvals, and not far behind is Pakistan with 21,000-odd followed by Philippines with 10,000-odd and Bangladesh with 8,092. A reliable source at the Polish Embassy states that there are over 800,000 Polish immigrants who are British citizens and hardly 1% of them are applying for British passports. Some of these Polish immigrants have been living in the United Kingdom since 2004 and are well settled. Most of them own either houses or apartments and have become part of the local community, and the next logical step is to apply for a British passport.
While on the topic of migration, a recent report from the Office of National Statistics of The Guardian on migration has created a storm of sorts. While the Sun calls it the “Great Migrant Swindle” the Telegraph believes that all that is quoted on ONS migrant is quite far from the truth. The report further states that there is a rather unusual flux of migrants from the EU to the UK, which may have something to do with the referendum, and the outcome, whether it is “in” or “out”, both are bound to have consequences.
The prime minister claimed in November last almost half of the migrants from the European Economic Area stand to gain support from the UK benefits system. However, this seems to have been proved false. The truth is that the figure is closer to a sixth of the migrants gaining support. Moreover, the EEA migrants have contributed to the Exchequer close to £3 billion by way of taxes, and have claimed just £0.5 billion towards benefits. If this doesn’t prove that the migrants have made a positive contribution towards the UK economy and treasury, pray what does?
The EU migration has had a great impact on the British labour market, it has also created employment, boosting growth and enhanced public finances. On the other hand, the government is bent on going on an austerity drive and cutting down drastically on expenditure. Why then harp on the untruth that more number of European migrants have been claiming benefits, when the actual figure is very low? Where is all Exchequer’s money going to, ask the media, who claim they have been deliberately lied to.