Do Migrants Really Cost Britain £120 Billion? Here's What You Need To Know

05/11/2014 12:33 | Updated 05 November 2014

Two University College London academics published a report today about the cost of migration, which the newspapers have used to reach radically different conclusions.

"UK gains £20bn from EU migrants," the Guardian reported, the Independent went with: "EU migrants add £20bn to the economy in a decade".

Meanwhile other papers like the Telegraph raged about the "£120bn cost of Labour's policy on immigration".

However, the report's authors are not impressed with the Telegraph's headline. Professor Christian Dustmann, director of the Centre for Research and Analysis of Migration (CReAM), told the Huffington Post UK it was "kind of ridiculous and suggests they really didn't read our paper".

See also: Immigrants From Eastern Europe Pay 12% More In Taxes Than They Receive In Benefits

With politicians like Ukip leader Nigel Farage warning that immigration "is going to get bigger" as an issue, Prof Dustmann says the headline conclusion of his study is that recent migrants "have made a substantive net fiscal contribution" to Britain.

"The debate is about recent immigration, that's why we focus on recent immigrants," the UCL academic explains, "they guys pay more than what they take out."

Jonathan Portes, director of the National Institute for Economic and Social Research, told HuffPost UK: "There are lots of numbers in this report so its quite easy for people to pick the number they want."

"The report clearly shows that the contribution from recent immigrants is considerable," he added.

Here is what you need to know about the heavyweight report showing that recent migrants more than pay their way.

  • Recent EU immigrants have definitely been good for Britain
    UCL's CReAM
    Immigrants who arrived in the UK between 2001 and 2011 from the rest of the European Union contributed a total of £20bn more in taxes to the public purse than they received in benefits, while non-EU immigrations contributed £5 billion. By contrast, the UK-born population contributed £617bn less in taxes than they received in benefits over that period. The authors worked out the "net fiscal contribution" of different groups by calculating how much they cost in terms of government funds, such as medical expenses, schooling their children and benefits, and then deducting that from their overall contribution to the public purse.
  • Recent EU migrants are less likely to claim benefits
    The study from UCL"s Centre for Research and Analysis of Migration found that there was a 40% chance that the average Briton claims tax credits or benefits, compared to 23% for new immigrants since 2000 and a 24% chance for non-EU immigrants.
  • Native Brits have been a far bigger burden...
    Immigrants from outside of the European Union, who already live or moved to Britain over 1995 to 2011, did pay in £118 billion less in taxes than they took out in benefits, but this is massively dwarfed by the £591 billion net cost for the UK-born population. Meanwhile, EU migrants have still been net contributors, paying in £4.4 billion more in taxes than the received in benefits.
  • The £118 billion cost of migrants may itself be too big...
    The £118 billion cost attributed to migrants may actually be much smaller, as the report's authors attribute the cost of children's health and education to migrants, while their future tax payments are attributed to natives.
  • And you can't just blame Labour....
    The UCL academics point out that the average non-EU immigrant in 1995 has already been in the country for 23 years, so they would have come to the country well before the last Labour government.

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