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Bulgarians and Romanians ‘unlikely to strain UK services’

By Vivienne Russell | 5 April 2013

The removal of restrictions on Bulgarian and Romanian immigration to the UK is unlikely to have a significant impact on public services in the UK, economic forecasters said today.

A study on the expected impact of the change, carried out by the National Institute of Economic and Social Research, was published by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office today.

It said that although there was no estimate of the number of people expected to arrive, the UK would not be the preferred destination for many.

The study also noted that eastern European migrants tended to be young and healthy and not make major demands on health services, although families might put pressure on local schools, particularly primary schools. There was no evidence to suggest that migrant schoolchildren had a negative effect on school performance, language assistance would need to be provided for any new arrivals.

Housing effects were likely to be felt more in the private rented sector than the social housing sector, despite widespread public perceptions that European Union migrants put pressure on social housing. The long-term impact on housing was very much dependent on where migrants chose to settle and whether they did so in families, the researchers said.

Migrants were less likely than other social groups to claim benefits, apart from Child Benefit.

Europe minister David Lidington said the research was a welcome contribution to the debate on migration.

‘The report will help to shape this government’s work to build an immigration system which works in the national interest – supporting the UK economy by continuing to attract the brightest and the best global talent, at the same time as protecting our public services and ensuring our welfare system is not open to abuse,’ he said.

The study did not take account of the impact of Bulgarian and Romanian migration on the wider economy or the impact on particular industries.

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