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Have we got immigrant paranoia?

(277 Posts)
Jac1978 Mon 25-Mar-13 10:20:02

David Cameron is vowing to end benefits for EU migrants after six months. Around half a million migrants come into the UK every year, one in five from the EU but half return home every year. Only 6% of benefits claimants are foreign born - is Cameron wrongly targetting a minority and just responding to media paranoia about immigrants or is it a real problem and is he right to make things harder for them? Are we blind to the benefits of immigration? Are Brits who emigrate abroad any better?

frogwatcher1 Mon 25-Mar-13 13:26:11

ttosca - the problem is that the country is not big enough to keep building houses. There just isnt the space if we want to keep some farming viability.

The housing crisis is not just about a growing population - expectations are that smaller numbers of people live in a house now compared to previously. Lots of split families etc.

As I keep saying, I have no idea if there is a genuine problem or not. I do agree (strongly) however, that a living wage should be paid for employment. That in itself would save the government a fortune.

maisiejoe123 Mon 25-Mar-13 13:36:16

I wouldnt have an issue with ID cards. When you talk about ID cards leading to trouble. Not having ID cards also leads to trouble.

niceguy2 Mon 25-Mar-13 13:40:43

why would anybody bother to come to UK?

I think this is a common question for those who have not visited a lot of other countries and perception of foreign countries is based upon a couple of weeks in a hotel by the beach.

The simple fact is that there are many many countries out there which is nowhere near as developed and far more corrupt than good old blighty.

When the EU was composed of member states which was roughly the same in terms of economic development then this wasn't a big issue. But then the EU expanded to the East where the member countries economies were/are vastly inferior. Salaries there are way down, benefits non-existant and competition for good jobs sky high.

So if you live in one of these countries where you've studied hard but job prospects are low. Your salary is about 3x higher in the UK even for a menial job and the state is generous in it's benefits, would you move? I know I probably would.

That coupled with the fact our society is (rightly) very tolerant to other cultures and that most people will speak a few words of English thanks to the TV, it makes us an incredibly attractive destination.

The big concern I have is that Bulgaria & Romania have large young populations and governments which are by western standards of questionable stature. The two combined may tempt a lot more people to come to our shores.

Ttosca makes a good point that the immigration problem can be also described as an infrastructure problem but infrastructure takes time to expand but the effects of immigration affect us now.

maisiejoe123 Mon 25-Mar-13 13:49:45

Having spent some time in Romania - it is very troubled. Crime is rife, gangs are everywhere and the people have been ravaged by dictatorships over the the years. And for those who say of course the education is free and why would anyone come to the UK.

Well, I think the stats speak for themselves. It worries me that when the EU was created that they didnt give grades to different countries dependant on their economic status. Otherwise if you are allowed to you will always move somewhere where things are paid for by others and this country is very tolerant of other cultures and often bend over backwards to accomedate.

And I am speaking as someone whose parents were not born in the country. My DM came over many many years ago with a skill that the UK were looking for. Thats the only reason she was allowed in.

frogwatcher1 Mon 25-Mar-13 13:52:09

nineguy - a couple of genuine questions.

Even if wages were higher in the UK (or Germany or elsewhere), surely the increased cost of living outweighs the benefit of having a job here on a larger salary? People are genuinely struggling on two salaries (I know we are) so how would it be beneficial to migrate from Bulgaria, Romania for a better salary?

Secondly - I am really confused when I see people say that housing needs to be built, infrastructure expanded etc. Overcrowding leads to decreased quality of life (fact as shown by many studies) and if we continue to build more and more houses, roads etc surely life becomes less pleasant? I know that there is a serious problem with a lack of social housing etc (I dont think it should have been sold off but that is another debate), but surely continuously building isnt the answer (not sure what is).

maisiejoe123 Mon 25-Mar-13 13:54:30

Frog - I thinks that's where benefits kick in.... If workers (or non workers) from other coutries are on low or no salaries then they will potentially be given money to pay for those higher cost items.

maisiejoe123 Mon 25-Mar-13 13:58:04

Think to stop the UK being swamped we need to consider whether we have a zero tolerance on ANY crime and also that someone needs to prove that they can sustain themselves without relying on the state.

If you are a worker from another country with little in ways of skills you will know that the chances of finding a well paid role is small. However what you also know is that there is probably a chance to have those low wages topped up to enable you to live in a better way than you did in your previous country. And of course there is free education, free NHS etc. All of which you have not paid into.

OneLittleToddleTerror Mon 25-Mar-13 13:59:51

Actually NHS GPs can and already have system in place to charge foreigners for treatment. PIL are British, sounds like Brummies, while we are the kiwis living in the UK. When they came to visit, they paid to see our GP for prescriptions. They aren't registered at any GPs, and obviously they were honest. That's when we were asked to pay for the visit. It was cheaper than what they pay to see their GPs in NZ, and they were on benefits back home with a community service card.

And it's a total misconception that it is hard to get into Australia. They have a massive migrant population. A quick google told me just over 1/4 of Australia population is foreign born. I've always thought the entire point about our point based immigration system is to get more migrants to come. When you arrive, you are already a resident, having the right tell your boss to stuff himself and look for another job. As opposed to the UK system where you are at the whim of the company sponsoring your visa.

OneLittleToddleTerror Mon 25-Mar-13 14:01:07

The "our" in my post refers to New Zealand, and extends to Australia. As I believe our point system was based on the aussies.

sleepyhead Mon 25-Mar-13 14:02:50

In many of the areas in the South where there are high immigration numbers, the immigrants come to do work such as fruit & veg picking or other short term/seasonal/zero hour contract work.

They live packed in to accommodation, sometimes with people on opposite shifts bed-sharing in order to reduce costs and maximise the amount of money saved/sent home.

British people often can't do this work because of the benefit trap - start work and get your benefits withdrawn, but it's a zero hour contract/short term and by the time you get back on benefits once the work has gone you've lost your home/can't feed your children.

The agricultural industry does, and always has, rely on migrants to be a flexible and disposable source of labour. These migrants have to be taken out of the equation when we look at the figures.

Immigrants with families with them wouldn't be able to do this work for the same reason British nationals can't.

wannabeEostregoddess Mon 25-Mar-13 14:05:02

There was a programme on a few years ago about a plane that leaves london every thursday and heads for a country which has seen a lot of its citizens migrate here.

Who is on the plane? Fugitives from that country. Rapists. Burglars. Theres a whole team of people whose job is to track these people down. They find them and send them back.

How about we intercept them on the way in instead?

niceguy2 Mon 25-Mar-13 14:07:27

Frog. What you will probably find is that in these countries that the cost of property and to a lesser extent food is at a lower cost. Everything else is comparable to UK prices. A lot is more expensive. Especially the nicer things.

To give you an example my when my fiancee's family and friends visit us in the UK they load up with clothes shopping for their return. Why? Because clothes are believe it or not more expensive over there and the quality lower. Here in the UK we don't think much of Primark quality but that is quite middle of the road from what I've seen in Eastern Europe.

The luxuries are certainly more expensive. To give you another example it is cheaper to buy an iphone in the UK than in Poland. And that's direct conversion without factoring in the fact your average Pole earns way less.

So if you are young, educated and ambitious. Why not come to the UK and try to make it? If you fail you can go home. If you make it, you can send money home. It's quite a no brainer for many youngsters.

Bitzer Mon 25-Mar-13 14:08:34

Declaimer: woefully ignorant about the statistics so this is all based on anecdotal evidence from immigrants I've met in the local community (who, almost without exception are v hard-working and the opposite of the benefit-scrounging stereotype). The ones I have spoken to here (central London) mostly come from Poland, Romania, Bulgaria etc and they come here because:
- there are more jobs (and better paid jobs) - and frogwatcher in response to your question, they generally find the lowest rent possible by moving to 'less desirable' areas and share with A LOT of housemates, they also live really cheaply
- their children get good, free schooling
- they get free medical care

They are often working as cleaners and carers (the kinds of jobs that are low-paid and unpopular I guess) or in construction. They are often over-qualified for the jobs they are doing but haven't found work in their home countries. In a couple of cases they've gone on to study for childcare qualifications and seem to be able to claim some welfare support while they are studying. I don't know the ins and outs of it but I'm guessing that is not something that would be available in their home countries.

I think for all it's faults, the UK offers a pretty good standard of living when compared with a lot of the countries that these particular immigrants are coming from.

Bitzer Mon 25-Mar-13 14:17:58

Having said that, I've also met a few Eastern Europeans (through a local drop-in centre) who have attempted to do what niceguy said, but it hasn't worked out, they've ended up homeless and jobless and subsequently started drinking etc. They often don't tell their families what's going on because they don't want to be seen to have failed sad

BenjaminButton172 Mon 25-Mar-13 14:19:16

I think something needs to be done. We have a housing and a job shortage and still let people move here.

We need to be more like other stricter countries. Maybe something like if u already have somewhere to live and a job then u can be granted entry.

I am all for migration but it shouldnt be a free for all as we as a country cant cope.

TeWiSavesTheDay Mon 25-Mar-13 14:36:32

A lot of the eastern European immigrants I know are well qualified with assets in home country, but can only get basic jobs here. They still stay because it's still better.

My friend told me when the euro came in, products that were sold across Europe (like food) suddenly shot up in price, because it was easier for the suppliers to charge the same as in much wealthier western Europe. Everyone struggles to save because living costs have become very high compared to wages.

All of the immigrants I know work and from chatting aren't aware of what they/their UK born dc are entitled to, let alone attempting to milk the system! So I do think the immigrants/benefits issue is spin.

Disclaimer: I am (kind of) an immigrant too.

Statistics about benefits claimants include anyone who wasn't born in the UK. That includes vast numbers of families who were born abroad to a British parent and returned to the UK later. I know half a dozen people whose parents are BOTH British but were born abroad because they had a parent in the military/foreign office/private work contract abroad.

NishiNoUsagi Mon 25-Mar-13 14:40:16

It's just ridiculous. He's not proposing anything new or groundbreaking, the majority of these policies are already in place so how he can profess to be changing the system I don't know..

NHS hospitals already all have an Overseas Visitor team, they know by your NHS number (is it newly registered/lack of one) etc if you've come from overseas. Even I, British national but had been living abroad for a few years, was approached by the Overseas Visitor team and asked to provide paperwork to prove that I was planning to stay in the UK long term, and not have my operation and leave the country.

Only 6% of benefits go to foreign born people.

Only 9% of social housing (about 300,000 houses - compare that to over 1 million houses that councils have sold off and not replaced over the last 10 years - that, much more than immigrants is what's causing the housing deficit).

Immigrants already can't just walk into the country and claim benefits. Those who come in on a spouse visa for eg (from outside EU anyway) are not eligible for any benefits. Yet under new regulations, they have to earn/bring in at least £18,600 pa (more if they have dependants - up to £30,00pa if they have 2 or 3 kids) Which would mean paying taxes and NI. They are eligible for benefits when they receive citizenship (usually 5 years?) at which point they will have been paying into the system for years. Here's a useful breakdown of other situations;

But no, just jump on the immigrant bashing bandwagon Mr C Sigh Bit of distraction from the millions other problems that the government has no intention of fixing..

NishiNoUsagi Mon 25-Mar-13 14:44:18

Oh, and this wink

"In England, councils prioritise Housing applicants by using a points system. The worse someone’s situation is, the more points they get. There are no points for being a refugee or from another country, and so no priority given on that basis.

Furthermore, a person without health problems, children or disabilities is unlikely to be found “priority need” so unlikely to get any council accommodation at all. Just like a British person in the same position."

Taken from here,

Callisto Mon 25-Mar-13 14:50:38

I think our border controls should be very much tighter, more in line with Canada/Australia where you can't just walk in and access benefits, you need to have a job, work permit, visa etc before you arrive.

We are the most heavily populated country in the EU, we have a serious housing problem, the NHS is at capacity as are school places. We need less people coming in. Period.

niceguy2 Mon 25-Mar-13 14:59:47

....where you can't just walk in and access benefits, you need to have a job, work permit, visa etc before you arrive.

But you can't already. My fiancee was denied benefits when she was effectively homeless after splitting from her violent and drunk ex-H because she'd returned home for a couple of months during her pregnancy for an extended holiday and thereby failing the habitual residence tests. This is despite having lived and worked in the UK for several years prior.

Despite the crap peddled in the papers you already can't just waltz in and claim benefits. It's already very tough. The only 'benefits' you can claim are those when you work. And that's how it should be.

ppeatfruit Mon 25-Mar-13 15:01:32

Yes nishi

The housing crisis needs to be thought through more creatively; all the empty houses and flats could be repaired before building any more little boxes on green belt land or flood plains its so short sighted and stupid; there won't be any land left soon. Plus the thousands of empty offices could be converted thus giving buiders jobs etc. if I hear one more effing politician say "build more houses" I'll scream.

williaminajetfighter Mon 25-Mar-13 15:03:22

Agree with the others that these systems are already in place but not working universally. GPs can charge but most aren't set up and I imagine it is a HUGE amount of grief to charge than to just let someone 'join the system'. Ditto hospitals. Plus it is a massive culture shift to do this or to turn down potential patients - unlike the USA. Local authorities do work on a points based system - but immigrants without homes, connections and many children usually make top of the list. They also have a duty of care....

I DO think Immigration is a problem mainly because of the pressure it is putting on services without the subsequent uplift in resources. Britain is PACKED and apparently the south-east of England is the most dense place in Europe outside of Malta... an island. I feel it - we really are packed in.

I also think some of the ethnic ghettos (sorry, that sounds like a tory term doesn't it!) does create real, legitimate issues for those living in and near them, things that most MPs haven't or won't experience - eg. tensions in council housing areas that are predominantly mono-cultural. I am an immigrant (moved from Canada in 1997) but in principle agree that govt needs to do something and it's frustrating that it's all talk and no action.

OneLittleToddleTerror Mon 25-Mar-13 15:03:58

niceguy2 I think there are some mythical migrants who can just walk in and access benefits. While on the other hand, we know of ones who were refused. In your fiancee case, ofc, much more dire than my british ILs who have to pay for NHS treatments because they aren't resident.

timidviper Mon 25-Mar-13 15:10:18

I had a chap ranting at me at work last week that he worked with a lot of polish workers who all claim child benefit for children in Poland who have never set foot in the UK. If this is true this money is being sent overseas, not benefitting our economy and draining the system.

I am concerned about the xenophobia that is evident (my 83 year old Mum is my barometer on these things as she only picks up the main stories and prevailing moods these days. She has told me several stories about immigrants, romanians, etc recently) but I do think we need to review our system to protect the needs and future of our own people.

williaminajetfighter Mon 25-Mar-13 15:11:31

should also say that as an immigrant I was denied access to any benefits (recourse to funds) and this was noted in my passport and my work visa. That said, I never tried to access funds. 8 years later I did receive baby Bonus but that was through my british partner -- I wasn't allowed it!

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