Letter to Derby Telegraph.
Barbara Wiltshire’s Soapbox “There is no room and no jobs, so what is so attractive to migrants” neatly summarises many of the myths and prejudices that seem to be very popular about immigrants. She states “What is it that they find so attractive, if not our benefits system?”. Perhaps if she spoke to some of those who had migrated then she may understand the answer to this question.
In a report issued in November 2013 by the Centre for Research and Analysis of Migration by the University College London entitled “The Fiscal effects of Immigration to the UK” their main conclusion was that “..rather than being a drain on the UK’s fiscal system –immigrants arriving since the early 2000s have made substantial net contributions to its public finances, a reality that contrasts starkly with the view often maintained in public debate”. Overall, immigrants from the European Economic Area made a positive contribution (paid more taxes than received benefits) of 4% compared to a negative contribution of 7% by the native population. In overall terms the researchers conclude that their contribution “has been consistently positive and remarkably strong”.
Another reason why many migrate to the UK is to escape from poor living conditions, social exclusion and racism. This applies particularly to the Roma community who have fled from the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Romania. Prior to the fall of communism in 1989/90 the regimes in these countries maintained a form of “harmony” through the availability of work for all, and the commitment to state provision of housing and education. After the collapse of the communist governments, the economies became significantly poorer, promoting the rise of far-right groups. Historically, the Roma have been persecuted for being outsiders and today, in East Europe, they are discriminated against by the colour of their skin. Many people report of how they are rejected at job interviews as they walk through the door as the prospective employer sees them for the first time.
In their home countries this situation is getting worse. They have no real prospect of employment, their children are not properly educated, and the living conditions for many are atrocious. Many live in fear of being attacked by skinhead groups.
Is it no wonder that when the opportunity exists to migrate to another country to establish a better life for their family that they take it? This is despite the fact that everything will be alien, and they can’t speak the language. Whilst for many they have to work in low paid factory jobs, and struggle with accommodation, they can see a future for their families. In a culturally rich and diverse city like Derby, they are not discriminated against and people are very welcoming – for once they have a chance to be happy. That is why living in the UK is “so attractive to migrants”.