The Contribution Of A8 Migrants To The Uk Public Finances – Some Further Comment

In an article for the Guardian Online on 6 March,
Jonathan Portes made three claims which we believe are open to question [1]:

1. A8 migrants are “far less likely to live in social housing”

The study [2] upon which this claim is based only covered
the first four years of A8 migration to the UK and compared this inflow of
mainly young and mainly single new arrivals with the entire British population.
 Obviously A8 migrants would be less
likely to qualify for social housing.

A8 migrants are “far less likely to claim benefits and tax credits”

This is based on a study [3] by the Department for Work and Pensions but it omits benefits such as housing
benefit and Council tax benefit paid by local authorities.  In any case the young and single are less
likely to claim.

A8 migrants “paid in via taxes about 30% more than they cost our public

The paper on which this claim relies is only a
snapshot of the situation in 2009 and it only looks backwards, taking no
account of future costs of health, education and pensions. It explicitly states
that "any predictions of future contributions and receipts must rely on a
set of very strong (sic) assumptions,
and we do not wish to engage in such speculation"[4]

Comment.  The thrust of the
article is that A8 migrants are young, healthy and have a high employment rate
so are less likely to be a charge on the benefit system.   That is almost self evident if the focus is
confined to the short term but the longer term implications are also important,
both socially and economically.

A major and more recent study carried out in 2011 by
the NIESR, a think tank now led by Jonathan Portes, found that the long term
impact on GDP of A8 migration to the UK was expected to be ‘negligible’. [5]

[1]Jonathan Portes, A
crisis over the UK’s
benefits bill for EU migrants? What crisis?, Guardian Online, 6 March 2013. See here

[2] CReAM, ‘Assessing the
Fiscal Costs and Benefits of A8 Migration to the UK’, CReAM Discussion Paper No
18/09, July 2009, p. 19. See here

[3] DWP, Nationality at point of national insurance number registration of DWP
benefit claimants: February 2011 working age benefits, January 2012. See here

[4]CReAM, ‘Assessing the Fiscal Costs and Benefits of A8 Migration to the UK’,
CReAM Discussion Paper No 18/09, July 2009, p. 19. 

[5] NIESR, ‘Labour Mobility within the EU – The Impact of Enlargement and the
functioning of the transitional arrangements’, NIESR Discussion Paper No 379,
April 2011, p. 2. See here   

[6] House of Lords Select Committee on Economic Affairs, 1st Report of
Session 2007-08, The Economic Impact of Immigration, Volume I: Report, April
2008 page 41. See here

3rd April 2013 - Economics, European Union, Welfare Benefits

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