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Public Works is UNISON Scotland's campaign for jobs, services, fair taxation and the Living Wage. This blog will provide news and analysis on the delivery of public services in Scotland. We welcome comments and if you would like to contribute to this blog, please contact Dave Watson d.watson@unison.co.uk. For other information on what's happening in UNISON Scotland please visit our website.

Wednesday, 6 November 2013

Report debunks the myth of 'benefit tourism'

Immigrants to the UK in the last decade contributed £25 billion more in tax than they received in benefits over the last ten years. They were also less likely to claim handouts or live in social housing than people already living in Britain.

The report, by University College London, found that people who had moved to the UK since 2000 had made a “substantial” contribution to public finances, rather than being a drain on them. Those who arrived since 1999 were 45% less likely to receive benefits or tax credits between 2000 and 2011 than those born in the UK. The report's authors said:

“These differences are partly explainable by immigrants’ more favourable age-gender composition. However, even when compared to natives with the same age, gender composition, and education, recent immigrants are still 21% less likely than natives to receive benefits.”

Immigrants are also better educated, with 32% of recent EEA immigrants and 43 per cent of non-EEA immigrants having university degrees, compared with 21% of the British adult population, “in contrast with most other European countries, the UK attracts highly educated and skilled immigrants from within the EEA as well as from outside”.

The evidence in this report shows that claims about ‘benefit tourism’ by immigrants are simply untrue. Not that we can expect a retraction from the right wing tabloids and commentators, but at least we can rebut their lies.

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