Have Romanian And Bulgarian Migrants Flooded Into Britain, One Month On?

What Happened To The 'Flood' Of Romanians And Bulgarians?
Visa restrictions lifted
Visa restrictions lifted

The floodgates have been open for a month.

In the weeks leading up to January 1, when Romanian and Bulgarian citizens secured the right to come to work freely in the UK, there were dire warnings of a "tidal flood" of migrants heading for this country, with Ukip leading the charge.

Based on Migration Watch's high-profile prediction of 50,000 arrivals every year, at least 4,000 should be here already.

So how is it going? Last week David Cameron said the numbers looked "reasonable".

Migration Watch was tight-lipped, saying Cameron's comments were "speculation".

A spokesman agreed that around 4,000 new arrivals would be expected by now if the 50,000 estimate was correct, but said no comment would be made until official figures come out later in the year.

The Home Office was equally reluctant.

"We're not making projections at this stage", a spokeswoman said.

But while no official data is available, anecdotal evidence suggests some predictions could have been exaggerated.

The Bulgarian Embassy suggested there had been "no increase of numbers whatsoever" and said it was not expecting one in the months to come.

Tsvetin Spasov, of the Embassy, told HuffPost UK: "We do not have official or unofficial figures of the number of Bulgarians that have come in the UK since 1 January but according to some plane and bus companies the situation has been business as usual with no increase of numbers whatsoever."

He added: "We are not expecting an increase in the coming months compared to the usual trend of newcomers from the previous years."

This was backed up by Rita Chadha, of the Refugee and Migrant Forum of Essex and London (Ramfel).

The forum works across a huge area, covering all of the capital and Essex, providing advice on housing and benefits and legal matters to migrants to between 150 and 200 clients a week.

Asked how many since January 1 had been newly-arrived Romanians or Bulgarians, Chadha said: "Not a single one."

Since January 1 Ramfel has seen three Romanians, she said, but they had been in the UK since 2002, 2009 and 2011.

"I am surprised that we have seen absolutely nobody at all", she said.

"All that stuff about them being a drain on the NHS doesn't really fit. Our response to the scaremongering is that there is no evidence for it.

"We are in unprecedented times, and people have other places to go."

Immigration figures for the first quarter of 2014 are expected in May.


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