Tuesday

17th Jul 2018

Young Polish workers flock to UK

  • Britain has attracted far more waiters than plumbers from the new member states than expected (Photo: EUobserver)

The number of workers from east European member states registered in the UK has risen significantly in comparison to government estimates.

Figures released by the Home Office on Tuesday (23 August) show that more people come to work to UK per month than had been predicted for the whole year.

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There are around 14,000 newcomers each month, whereas a government study last year had forecast an annual total of 5,000 to 13,000 workers.

According to June statistics, around 232,000 applicants from the eight countries - Poland, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Slovakia, Slovenia, and the three Baltic states - have registered under a special scheme, set up shortly before the May 2004 enlargement because of fears about possible abuse of the country's social benefit system.

Over half of the registered workers (57%) are Polish.

They are overwhelmingly young - between 18 and 34 - and rarely claim social benefits.

In total, around 1,700 people have applied for benefits (out of 232,000), and only 50 claims have been considered further.

The new workers are mostly employed in factories (41,000) and restaurant kitchens (12,000), taking jobs that British employers have found hard to fill.

Britain, Ireland and Sweden are the only three countries to have opened up their labour markets to the new EU citizens, while the 12 other ‘old’ member states have opted for a transitional period of restrictions for up to seven years.

The European Commission is set to launch a survey next year on the labour market implications of enlargement and evaluate the effect of the existing barriers for the freedom of workers in the EU.

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