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EU Migrant Workers Contribute £2.3K More a Year to Britain Than UK Citizens

Why Global Citizens Should Care
Global citizenship, at its core, is the belief that everybody is equal. But as the Brexit debate rolls on, it appears that many in the UK believe that EU migrants are bad for Britain — and yet the facts would indicate otherwise. Take action here on the world’s most challenging issues.

Britain yawns, and stretches its arms once more to greet another warm September morning — before reality snatches away its slumber with the predictable drone of late-night radio DJ and very-occasional MEP Nigel Farage on BBC Radio 4.

“Can we just be clear about this — these accusations of narrow mindedness!” Farage barks into an obliging Today Show mic, after he met the first mention of “hate crime” with a sigh of pantomime proportions. “A very clear, solid, large majority of the British people... want immigration reduced — and many of them want it reduced substantially.”

Action: Tell the UK Government: Help Create a World Where #SheIsEqual

While his comments from Tuesday morning are fundamentally untrue, he accidentally touched on an important point: it is not well understood in Britain how migration can be a force for good.

But a report also released on Tuesday aims to clear a few things up.

The Migration Advisory Committee found that migrants from the European Economic Area (EEA) —  a collection of every EU country, also including Iceland, Liechtenstein, and Norway — contribute £2,300 more a year to the UK than the average British citizen.

That’s about £78,000 over a lifetime, helping prop up services like the NHS and our lifesaving UK aid budget.

The final figure has already taken into account what EU migrants take in terms of public services and benefits, according to the Independent — so it’s one big net gain. Meanwhile, British adults score a net contribution of zero.

Cancel your meetings and gorge on this graph for a minute:

Basically, the report argues that removing the contribution of EU migrants after Brexit would be equivalent to a huge tax hike on the rest of us.

Oxford Economics, who led the research, concluded that it’s the equivalent of an extra 5p on every pound paid in income tax.

“When it comes to the public finances, European migrants contribute substantially more than they cost, easing the tax burden on other taxpayers,” said lead researcher Ian Mulheirn. “What’s more, this strongly positive average contribution persists over a lifetime: most migrants arrive fully educated, and many leave before the costs of retirement start to weigh on the public finances.”

“If the UK’s new relationship with Europe involves reduced migration, this analysis suggests the tax burden on others will have to rise,” he added.

The Migration Advisory Committee have therefore recommended that the government “makes it easier” to settle high-skill workers from the EU.

Right now only 20,700 high-skilled workers are allowed into the UK every year. The report urged the government to scrap that cap altogether, but also stated that other EU workers should be given “no preference” after Brexit, similar to the present system in Canada. Meanwhile, net migration from the EU is at its lowest level since 2012. 

Other findings from the report included that EEA migrants had no impact on crime rates, did not steal British people’s jobs, and give more to the NHS workforce than they took out in healthcare.

A home office spokesperson said the government will “carefully consider” the proposals.

It comes as a separate study released on Monday revealed that 40% of British people thought that multiculturalism had undermined UK culture.

The survey — conducted by Institute of Commercial Management (ICM), thinktank British Future, and anti-racism organisation Hope Not Hate — provided a damning insight into public feeling towards how immigration was handled at the very top. Just 15% thought the government had handled it with competence, while more than a quarter thought politicians never told the truth about the issue.

“Immigration is a national issue, but people see it through a local lens,” said co-author Rosie Carter from Hope Not Hate. “Where people live, and their living conditions, makes a real difference – that includes the perceived impact of migration on their community, broader grievances about economic insecurity, and levels of contact with migrants and ethnic minorities too.”