Poles can earn four times as much money in Britain as they would in their homeland even if they are only paid the minimum wage, it is claimed in The Daily Telegraph last week.
The anti-immigration pressure group Migration Watch UK says that the minimum wage in this country is also more than twice as high as average earnings of Poland, taking into account the differing cost of living.
It calculates that a Polish family living in Britain could save a fifth of what they take home and still enjoy a better lifestyle than they did in eastern Europe.
Almost half a million Polish migrants have moved here over the past decade, since the country joined the European Union, and they now have the right to claim benefits as well as seek work.
But Migration Watch warns that if their numbers continue to rise, it risks scuppering the Government’s pledge to cut net migration – the number of people coming to live in Britain for more than a year, minus those who moved abroad – from the current 250,000 to the “tens of thousands” a year by 2015.
Sir Andrew Green, chairman of the group that led the campaign for ministers to limit the numbers of immigrants, said: “It is entirely understandable that East Europeans should want to improve their standard of living and make money which they can send home. It is also clear that many of them are valued for their strong work ethic.
“That said, it was a very serious mistake to extend full access to our benefit system to nationals of member states where the standard of living is only about one third of ours. In fairness to the hard pressed British taxpayer, this must be changed. We even pay child benefit at British rates to children who have never set foot in this country.
“The whole EU benefit regime must be renegotiated otherwise there is a clear risk that the number of East European migrants coming to seek work in Britain will shoot up placing even greater strain on our public services and putting the government’s immigration objectives at considerable risk.”
Migration Watch’s figures state that the number of Polish-born residents of Britain rose from 95,000 in 2004, the year Poland joined the EU as part of the A8 wave, to 550,000 in 2010. As a result, unemployment in their homeland fell sharply after accession.
In May 2011 the transition period ended, meaning they have “full access” to this country’s welfare state, while Romanian and Bulgarian migrants will enjoy the same rights in 2014.
Migration Watch has calculated that an adult with a spouse and two children who earned the minimum wage in Britain would receive £543 a week, £28,200 a year, in salary and benefits including child tax credit and housing benefit.
Using Purchasing Power Parity data to compare earnings across the different countries, the think-tank estimates that in Poland a family on the minimum wage would have about £145.
Those on the average salary would receive just £235 a week in Poland, less than half the minimum wage and benefits in Britain. Source: The Telegraph.
In a recent ‘world average wage’ league table calculated by the International Labour Organization, Poland’s average pay came in at around half that of the average pay in the UK, not as Migration Watch suggests at half the British minimum wage.
Many employers are reporting that Polish workers are increasingly returning back to Poland where living standards are better than in the UK.
Of the former Eastern Bloc countries to join the EU only Czech Republic was higher than Poland, with Bulgaria and Romania well below.
EU workers from countries such as Poland, Bulgaria and Romania have come to the UK in large numbers because they know they can easily find work because many British born do not want to take minimum wage jobs or jobs which require unsocial hours.
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