UK immigration estimates for Romania and Bulgaria are 'unfounded'

21 Aug 2013 | Posted by Carl Thomas

High-end estimates for the number of Romanians and Bulgarians arriving in the UK next year are “unfounded”, according to cross-party lobby group, Migration Matters Trust, which has suggested that the figures have been overestimated.

There have been claims from competing groups, such as MigrationWatch, that as many as 300,000 people will come through UK immigration next year when the two countries see the labour restrictions in the UK lifted.

However, Migration Matters has suggested that the actual figure could be as low as 20,000.

Government has so far refused to come out on either side of the fence, but the state's Office for National Statistics has estimated that around 37,000 Romania and Bulgarian workers have arrived in the UK since June last year, even ahead of the lift on labour restrictions.

Atul Hatwal, director of Migration Matters, told The Guardian: "We are fast approaching a defining moment in the debate over immigration in the UK. Organisations such as MigrationWatch and Ukip have consistently argued their anti-migrant campaigns are based on evidence, rather than prejudice.

"If 300,000 migrants do arrive from Romania and Bulgaria then the opponents of migration will have shown to be correct. If they don't, then they will have been exposed as doing nothing more than to pursue a partisan and divisive political agenda.”

Until New Year's Day 2014, migrants from Romania and Bulgaria will only be able to work in Britain with a UK visa supported by their employer, or if they are in the country on a temporary basis to work in areas in which Britain is facing a labour shortage, or if they're self-employed.

The lifting of the controls will allow them full access to employment in the manner of other European Union countries.