12 November 2015

What europhiles miss about Britain’s jobs miracle


See? What did they tell you? All that talk about Eastern Europeans coming over here to claim our generous benefits has been proven to be the nonsense they told you it was all along.

They, of course, are the Europhile supporters of mass uncontrolled immigration, who are jumping up and down with glee today over the latest job figures which, they insist, prove they’ve been right all along.

Yes, some two million migrants may have made their way to our shores in recent years but, whatever the xenophobic little Englanders like to claim, they aren’t here to scrounge benefits, they are here to work hard.

The proof, after all, is in the pudding. Or rather it’s in the latest labour force figures from the Office for National Statistics, which show a jobs boom, with another 430,000 people joining the UK labour force in the past year.

Three quarters of those new workers – 325,000 – are European migrants, with half from Eastern Europe.

So there is the proof, in black and white, telling us that mass immigration is a jolly good thing after all.

The only trouble is, those figures tell us no such thing. Indeed, they are telling us quite the opposite because while mass immigration is great news for the immigrants and for employers, it is quite a different story for our own home grown unemployed.

Let’s leave for one moment the small but pertinent fact that even new arrivals from Eastern Europe who work full time are entitled to thousands in-work benefits like tax credits, housing and child benefit.

The fact remains that, contrary to what the open border fans may like to claim, the vast majority of these migrants – even those who are university educated – are doing unskilled, low paid work here in Britain.

They are not, by and large, net contributors to the economy once you take into account their tax contribution and their call on our limited housing supply, healthcare and schools for their children.

But most crucially, they are mostly doing the jobs that could – and should – be done by our own vast supply of native unskilled workers who instead are left to choose a life on benefits.

Britain now has, at 74 per cent, a higher proportion of working age people in jobs than ever before. Yet one in 20 adults is registered unemployed, with that figure rising to one in seven of under 24s. That’s 430,000 youngsters who apparently can’t find work in their own country when 325,000 Europeans seem to have no problem at all.

Yes, of course many employers would rather hire a hard-working Pole or Romanian to do a minimum wage job than employ a surly British teen who turns up an hour late every time it rains or there’s an R in the month. And not everyone lives in an area where the jobs are on offer.

But it is an economic absurdity for Britain to blithely import a cheap foreign labour force when we have large numbers of our own unemployed who could do that work instead rather than languish on benefits.

The jobs are there in abundance if people are willing to move to find it and are willing to work hard – as the Eastern Europeans prove. The harsh reality is that if our welfare system was as ruthless as that offered in Poland and Romania, unemployed Britons would already be doing those jobs anyway.

All the talk about how wonderful mass immigration is may be true for the hard working men and women who have chosen to make Britain their new home. But it doesn’t do much for the jobless Brits left behind – or the taxpayers who fund their life on benefits.

Julia Hartley-Brewer is a journalist and broadcaster. A former political editor and LBC Radio presenter, she is a regular on TV shows such as Question Time and Have I Got News For You, and on Radio 4’s Any Questions.