Making sense of the European immigration and benefit claims
The coalition government and some media have been showing their concerns about the rise of immigration from the European Economic Area.
According to them, this migratory wave could jeopardise the British welfare system as some people could come to the UK with the intention of living on benefits and making no contribution to the economy.
A recent study by the University College London showed that recent immigration has contributed a ’34% more in taxes than they received in benefits’.
But, as we were analysing the National Insurance Number (NINo) registrations from Southern European nationals, let’s see what this data says.
The Department of Works and Pensions (DWP) does not keep track of the nationalities of the benefit claimants, but we can know how many people from overseas asked for government support within six months after they got their NINo.
Please, notice that this data is not just for the European immigrants. It includes people from all around the world and shows what is the percentage of new NINo registrations that claimed benefits in the first 6 months.
As you can see in the chart, the percentage of people claiming benefits 6 months after getting their NIN grew since 2007/2008 until 2010/2011, when it started to decrease again.
Nevertheless, these figures are still much lower than at the beginning of the decade, when more than a 12% of the people with a new NINo claimed benefits in the first 6 months.
Europeans on benefits
A FOI request revealed some data about the nationality of benefits claimants.
Even though the DWP does not keep track of this precise information, they know what was the nationality of the claimant when he applied for the National Insurance Number.
The problem with this data is that if that person obtained the British citizenship it would be still counted in this statistic, so we cannot say that these figures are the number of non-British nationals claiming benefits.
The chart above shows that the number of people claiming benefits that had an European nationality rose significantly since 2008, particularly because of the EU accession countries.
But the figure of 116.520 benefit claimants is still very low compared to the total population of European nationals living in the UK. According to the Office for National Statistics there were more than 2.3 million EU nationals living in the UK in 2012. So, the percentage of benefit claimants would be less than a 5% of the total population.
Southern Europeans and benefits
Apparently the FOI request did not include this data by nationality, so I will need to send one of my own to get this information.
Nevertheless, there is a report published by the ONS where they list the 20 nationalities at NINo registration with more benefit claimants.
In 2013, only two countries from the South of Europe where included on the list: Portugal, with 12.440 claimants and Italy with 6.290.
I would need to compare this figures with the last few years and the estimated population, so I will wait until I get a response.
If you want to have a look to the data I used you can check this link and if you have more information about this topic, pleas leave a comment.