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Case Study: Migration from Eastern Europe to the U.K

Updated on January 11, 2013

The E.U with with the A8 in Orange


Why is the immigration so large?

In 2004 the A8 was accepted into Europe:

  • Czech Republic
  • Estonia
  • Hungary
  • Latvia
  • Lithuania
  • Poland
  • Slovenia
  • Slovakia

When they were accepted by only 3 countries for an immediate 'open border' policy. The U.K, Ireland and Sweden. The rest of Europe decided to wait the 7 year 'probation period' before allowing them an open border policy.

In the first year over 200,000 immigrants arrived hugely over the estimated 40,000. There were several reasons for this:

- There was a need of low skilled low wage labour
- The minimum wage in the U.K is generous, workers can make in a week what they would earn in a month in Poland.
- There weren't many 'intervening obstacles'
- The 'Worker Registration Scheme' allowed migrants right of entry and rights to work
- Easy transport cheap bus and air travel reduce costs of migration
- There was already a community in England to provide support
- Immigrant friendly services such as banks that allow remittance to be sent home easily, shops selling polish foods.

Impacts on source country: (Poland)


  • Loss of skilled workers: In 2005, 10% of construction jobs were not filled. The Baltic Stadium in Gdansk, built for the UEFA European Football Championship in 2012 in Poland, was put behind schedule from a lack of workers which they has to find in other countries
    Health services have suffered 25% of all anaesthetists left the country.
  • As it is mostly young men migrating this often leads to family break-up, between 2007 and 2009 the divorce rate doubled.
  • Because of the migration of mainly young people the population structure has changed creating an 'ageing population' with increased tax pressure.


  • Because of the lack of male workers females between 17-25 step into fill the gap, increasing their opportunities, this also increases aspiration in young girls.
  • The unemployment rate is starting to fall.
  • Remittances sent home totalled 4 billion in 2006.
  • Workers often return home with new skills
  • Migrants to not take Polish benefits

Impacts on Host Country:


  • Social Tensions: In Peterborough, 1 in 10 of the population are migrants and most are working. This gives rise to the idea that the migrants are 'stealing are jobs'.
  • Pressure on government services such as the NHS, schools and the police where increasingly many languages are spoken, so translators are needed. In Beeches Primary School, Peterborough, 24 languages are spoken and only 1 student out of 600 spoke English as their first language.
  • Rent has gone up due to increased demand.
  • Social differences cause issues for police and local government; the immigrants see it as acceptable to: fly tip, carry flick knives, drink and drive and often live in cramped and squalid conditions .
  • Migrants are entitled to the same state support as U.K citizens once they have lived and worked in the U.K for 12 months which some claim (although not many) they are also entitled to NHS care.
  • Immigrants can claim child benefit for children that live back in the source country. In Poland the child benefit is £160 compared to £941 in the U.K, and there were 27,000 applications for this.
  • Immigrants often work harder for lower wages 'undercutting' Britons.


  • Migrants have added £12 to £18 billion in tax revenues since 1998, whilst they rarely claim benefits between 2004 and 2007 700,000 migrants claimed just £5000 income support.
  • This influx of young workers has eased the pension burden.
  • Farming and service industries have been fuelled by the influx of cheap labour.
  • The jobs the migrants do are often: Dirty, Difficult and Dangerous and would otherwise be left unfilled.
  • As many migrants prefer to shop in local shops rather than supermarkets high streets are rejuvenated. The Lincoln road in Peterborough is an example.
  • Migrants have opened business opportunities such as remittance bank accounts and recruiting agencies to advertise and find vacancies.

Eastern Europe to U.K Migration Good or Bad?

For the host countries in this case the U.K, it is an economic positive for the country, as the influx of young men means that the pension problem is relieved. However it does cause social tensions from the cultural differences. It can also cause strain on services such as schools, police and health care.

Share your opinion!

In your opinion is migration from Eastern Europe to the U.K good or bad?

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    • loquacious-mare profile image

      Phoebe 5 years ago from Isle of Wight

      If you want to move into the U.K start here:

      I'm afraid I can't be of much more help!

      Good Luck!

    • profile image

      dinonath 5 years ago


      I am an India citizen. I want migrate to any friendly EU country. Please advice anyone can helps. I am self employed and can support myself. I just want change in life.

      Please email me

      Thank you in advance.

    • cfin profile image

      cfin 5 years ago from The World we live in

      Ireland was hit even harder. To be fair, Irish people turned their noses up at most jobs that the immigrants would take. With a minimum wage of E8.65 per hour, every job was gone in the matter of 6 months. The more important fact that our unemployment benefits at the time were E220 per week and many who came from the East worked for a short period and then claimed the benefits.

      Our population is just over 4 million, yet we had an influx of approximately 300,000 immigrants. The economic collapse didn't help either.

      The huge benefit is the mix of cultures and the education and open mindedness that results from outsiders coming to our country. It was great to meet people from eastern Europe and if there was a choice, I wouldn't go back and take away their right to come and work in Ireland.

      Some people I met, refused to speak English and some were running from their own law enforcement (the age old story of "why did they leave"), but for the most part, they are great people and due to the wage difference, i would have done the very same if I were in their shoes.