Gurkhas Most Economically-Active Social Group in Britain, Study Finds
A study on Gurkha resettlement in the UK has revealed that Gurkhas of working age are the most economically active and self-reliant social group in Britain.
The research, which was funded by the South East Strategic Partnership for Migration, follows controversy over comments by a Conservative MP that the Nepalese veterans were causing a burden on services in certain areas.
The study found that employment rates among Gurkha men and women are particularly high, at 95.1% for men under 60 and 92.6% for women under that age. It also found that 92.5% of men and 61.3% of women are in full-time employment, with 87.5% of men and 77.5% of women travelling away from where they live to work.
The study, conducted by researcher Nina Gurung at the University of Kent's School of Social Policy, Sociology and Social Research, found that 8.8% of Gurkha men and 1.3% of women are self-employed or are an employer (with the highest number of jobs created by Gurkha employers being 370); and that 40% of Gurkhas are accessing education and/or skills improvement training (44%).
The research, which surveyed 100 Gurkha men and women from two areas with the largest Gurkha settlements, also revealed that Gurkhas are outward-looking and actively seek advice before making important decisions, with almost 80% considering proficiency in English and having children in education, employment or training as most important.
Nearly three-quarters (71%) are involved in voluntary work in their communities. Despite many having only recently settled in the UK, the Gurkha home ownership rate stands at 56% while many others rent privately.
Meanwhile, reliance on housing benefit is mostly confined to older veterans due to low income, with 80% of over-60s on pension credits.
The study surveyed men and women living in Kent and the borough of Rushmoor, which covers the towns of Aldershot and Farnborough in Hampshire - the areas which have the largest Gurkha settlements in the UK.
Last month MP Gerald Howarth said towns in his Aldershot constituency were suffering "very considerable burdens" from the influx of retired Gurkhas moving to the area since the campaign to obtain settlement rights in Britain succeeded in May 2009. He said the Nepalese ex-soldiers should be dispersed across the nation, as is the case with asylum seekers.
His comments were described as "shocking and unacceptable" by Peter Carroll, founder of the Gurkha Justice Campaign, which was fronted by actress Joanna Lumley.