Immigration surge driven by eurozone crisis

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Spain has a jobless rate of more than 26 per cent compared with Britain’s 7.8 per cent Photo: AP

Britain has seen a massive surge in the number of immigrants coming here to work as they flee economic collapse in Eurozone countries such as Spain and Italy, official figures have disclosed for the first time.

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By David Barrett, Home Affairs Correspondent, Telegraph Online

9:00PM BST 29 Aug 2013

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The number of Spaniards registering for a National Insurance number rocketed from just over 30,000 in 2011-12 to more than 45,500 last year, a jump of 50 per cent.

Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) figures also showed sharp increases in arrivals from Italy (up 35 per cent to nearly 33,000) and Portugal (up 43 per cent to 24,500).

The figures illustrate how citizens of countries with rampant unemployment are heading to Britain in the hope of finding work. Spain has a jobless rate of more than 26 per cent compared with Britain’s 7.8 per cent.

Robert Rowthorn, emeritus professor of economics at King’s College, Cambridge, said the influx from southern European countries would continue as long as their economies remained in trouble.

“The position of some of these people, particularly the young, is quite desperate,” he said.
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“It will continue into the future so long as economic conditions are better here in the UK, where there is still relatively strong demand for labour.

“Once you have had immigration at these levels it will carry on for some time. That is because you will also get ‘chain’ migration because communities build up as people come to where they have friends and relatives.”

Sir Andrew Green, chairman of MigrationWatch UK, said: “This is a significant increase in the number of south Europeans coming to Britain to search for work.

“Because we don’t know how many are also going home, nor how long people are staying, we think the impact on overall immigration figures will be much less than these raw numbers.

“In the medium term, however, this is certainly a space to watch.”

Registrations for NI numbers are used as an indicator of how many people are coming from overseas to work in this country.

The DWP’s data showed a small rise in the number of eastern European immigrants applying for NI numbers was overshadowed by the surge in arrivals from the rest of the European Union.

According to the figures 209,000 eastern European immigrants were handed NI numbers last year, a one per cent rise on the previous 12 months, but other EU countries combined showed a 22 per cent jump, to 176,000.

New figures from the DWP also showed a 44 per cent rise in the number of Greeks coming to Britain to work, although numbers were far smaller at 8,680 last year

Separate figures published by the Office for National Statistics showed the number of people in the population who were born outside Britain reached 7,679,000 last year.

The total number of foreign-born residents has increased by 540,000 in just two years, and they now make up one in eight of the population.

In comparison, the figure was one in 11 in 2004, when there were 2.4 million fewer foreigners living in Britain.

Asylum applications are also on the rise, according to figures published yesterday, with an increase of 3,500 (18 per cent) in the year ending June this year.

In all there were 23,500 asylum applications with Syria accounting for the largest rise.

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