Coalition plans to curb EU immigration could cost the UK economy £60 billion and send national debt soaring, according to a major new report.
Workers from EU countries were found to be more likely to work in more senior jobs than British workers, according to research from Harvey Nash recruiters and the Centre for Economics and Business Research. They were also estimated to earn an average 7.6% (£2,035) more than their British counterparts.
The research follows celebrity chef Jamie Oliver's claims that EU immigrants had a better work ethic than "wet" British people.
The research found that migrant workers are more likely to be in work (63.3%) than UK-born citizens (56.2%), as well as more economically active (at 69.8%) than UK-born citizens (63%).
Tighter immigration controls would result in an estimated loss of 2% from GDP by 2050, equivalent to £60bn, as business suffers from the lack of talent and a booming old-age population takes its toll on the public finances.
The CEBR's analysis comes weeks after the Office for National Statistics predicted that the UK would need seven million more migrants over the next 50 years in order to keep debt down.
The report has been met with scepticism by critics, who branded its conclusions "madness".
A UKIP spokesman told the Huffington Post UK: "According to the logic of this report we as a country would do far better by getting rid of our own population and replacing them, wholesale, with EU migrants.
"Instead of creating skills shortages, getting a grip on EU migration would allow the UK to re-skill, rather than as has happened, de-skill. When a pre-trained migrant worker can undercut a local the net result is that it becomes uneconomic to train. This way madness lies".
Meanwhile, ministers plan to cap net UK migration to the tens of thousands rather than the hundreds of thousands. Prime minister David Cameron suggested in July that immigration was a "constant drain" on Britain's public services.
From 2003 to 2013, the number of non-UK EU-born citizens in employment in the UK more than doubled from 762,000 to 1,647,000
Albert Ellis, CEO of the Harvey Nash Group, said: “Non-UK EU born workers are bringing much needed skills and value to the UK and there is little evidence that EU immigrants are having a negative impact on wages or unemployment. In fact, immigrants are helping to create jobs - a broad and diverse labour market fuels growth as this report shows."
Charles Davis, CEBR Head of Macroeconomics, said: “Non-UK EU-born workers earned £39bn in total in 2012, bringing a wealth of skills and experience to the UK workforce and adding value to the economy. The departure of such workers for the UK, or new measures to prevent EU migration, could create skill shortages, hold back economic growth and worsen the position of the public finances.”
A Home Office spokesperson said: "We are building an immigration system that works in the national interest and supports growth.
“The UK is open to the brightest and the best and we want to attract skilled migrants to the UK when they are needed by British businesses, but no EU national has unrestricted access to the UK. They must be working, studying or self sufficient.
"We are focusing on cutting out the abuse of free movement and a growing number of EU member states now share our concerns. We have joined forces with Germany, Austria and the Netherlands to demand the European Commission takes action.”