BBC Immigration Survey Seeks To Calm Fears

wave17:18 Monday 22nd April 2013
Drive BBC Radio Cambridgeshire

[C]HRIS MANN: How many Bulgarians and Romanians will come to the Uk once travel restrictions are lifted next year? Some newspapers have talked of fears of a major influx, but a BBC survey suggests that might not be right. We’ll get some more reaction from local Conservative MP Stewart Jackson, and also talk to the Head of Ukip, the Deputy Head of Ukip Paul Nuttall in just a moment of two, but first of all our Political Reporter Robin Crystal has more.
ROBIN CRYSTAL: Well I think we need to put this in context first of all Chris. At the moment, there are travel restrictions on Romanians and Bulgarians coming to this country, so they are lifted at the end of this year. So the BBC went to Bulgaria and Romania and carried out a proper constituted survey of a thousand people in each country. They asked the simple question, are you thinking of moving elsewhere in the EU when the restriction’s lifted, to which a third in both countries said yes we are. Then they asked well are you thinking of coming to the UK. For Romania the figure dropped quite a lot to 8.2%, Bulgaria it was 13.6%. Then they started to ask what I think is the more interesting question, is well, what have you done about it. Have you approached a job agency, have you got accommodation, and there the figure dropped quite dramatically for Romania down to 0.3%, and Bulgaria to 2.5%. Of those relatively small numbers, the majority of Romanians who were interested had degrees and were affluent, were looking for reasonably higher paid jobs. A number of the Bulgarians tended to be younger, and more likely to be unemployed than the average.
CHRIS MANN: I’m sure the Bulgarians and Romanians are aware there’s been a bit of a tabloid storm here, so how trustworthy are these findings?
ROBIN CRYSTAL: Well the obvious thing to say, the caveat we always use, is it’s one snapshot survey. So, I mean, you know, it tells you something. It’s a properly constituted survey. The interesting thing is I certainly haven’t come across a similar survey done in those countries as to what people generally want to do. But it is only a snapshot, and certainly you could argue that here we are in mid-April, and maybe by I don’t know November, December, a lot more people will be serious about approaching job agencies or not. If you look at certainly it’s a very hot political issue Ukip, UK Independence Party has put out an election leaflet which points out that twenty nine million people from Bulgaria and Romanians have the right to live, work and draw benefits in the Uk, or will do, and while they may be very fine and hard working people, the Uk will struggle with another influx of people needing jobs, housing, schools and hospitals. Well of course that assumes that all twenty nine thousand (sic) people kind of empty themselves out of the country and all come here. So it is a very salient issue. If you ask people in opinion polls, the latest one I saw puts it at the second most important issue, most important worry for people, above things like even the NHS and unemployment.
CHRIS MANN: Well I’ll be talking to the Deputy Leader of Ukip Paul Nuttall live in just a moment or two. As you say, polls show that people have genuine concerns about immigration. The Government’s under some pressure to do something about it. What are they intending to do?
ROBIN CRYSTAL: Yes they are. And they are acting. The Government is looking at creating a new condition for claiming jobless benefits, for you to prove that you are genuinely seeking employment, and crucially that you speak English. That would be tougher than it is now. On council housing, well they’re considering bringing in a two year plus requirement before you can go on the waiting list. So you would have to be living here for more than two years before you can go even on the waiting list. That’s the so-called residency test. And on benefits as a whole, they’re considering something even more radical, that you have to make contributions before you can claim any benefits at all. Now that would be a big change, and obviously if you’ve just arrived in the Uk, you haven’t made any contributions, so you wouldn’t be getting any benefits. And finally, on the NHS, they want the NHS to be a lot tougher in chasing up repayments for treating other EU nationals from their home country.
CHRIS MANN: Robin Crystal reporting from Westminster there. Well despite the results of the BBC survey, Peterborough’s Conservative MP Stewart Jackson still has concerns about the prospect of more people heading here from Eastern Europe. (TAPE)
STEWART JACKSON: I think the problem is that we’ve had three years since this government took office to look seriously at the demographic changes, the pull factors, welfare benefits, health, housing, those issues, and it feels like we’re playing catch-up. Now I agree the Government are tougher now, but I still challenge the methodology used by even these surveys. (LIVE)
CHRIS MANN: Stewart Jackson there. Well let’s bring in Paul Nuttall from Westminster now, who is the Deputy Leader nationally of Ukip, and he himself is an MEP. Hello Paul.
CHRIS MANN: What do you make of the survey?
PAUL NUTTALL: Well I think what you must say first is that it’s a tiny sample size. We’re talking about a thousand people in each country, countries which amount to around twenty nine million people. Really, the sample size isn’t large enough to give a big enough picture, but beyond that, if you just scratch the surface beyond the BBC’s topline headlines, then you do see some startling figures. For example, it shows quite clearly that there are eighty three thousand people who are already attending interviews in the Uk from Romania and Bulgaria, which is a city, or a town the size of Stevenage. And you know there are five hundred thousand Bulgarians and Romanians who are actively looking for a job in the UK, which is a city the size of Bristol. I just think it makes no sense whatsoever to encourage almost immigration into the country from Eastern Europe, particularly when we’ve got a million of our young people out of work.
CHRIS MANN: So you want none at all?
PAUL NUTTALL: Well what I would like to see is a points based system, similar to Australia. I don’t think that’s racist in the slightest. And people can come and work on work permits, and when they’ve finished their job, then they can go back to their country of residence. That’s the way the Australians do it. I think we should do it like that in this country too.
CHRIS MANN: Have you been outflanked by the Government on this? Their new conditions are going to make it much tougher for people.
PAUL NUTTALL: Well the Government can wax lyrical and say that they’re going to have new conditions, but I’m telling you now that these rules will be challenged no doubt in the European Court of Justice by the European Commission. And we’re talking about having a contributions based system on welfare, and on the NHS too. But the European Union makes it perfectly clear that under European law, European citizens are protected, and they have equal rights. So either the Government are going to make this apply to British citizens as well, or they quite simply can’t do it.
CHRIS MANN: So put a figure on it in terms of your fears, as it sounds like they are. How many do you think are going to try and come here?
PAUL NUTTALL: Well quite frankly we just don’t know. Migration Watch UK say that there will be two hundred and fifty thousand in the first five years, which is basically a city the size of Hull. If you take the BBC’s figures, they’re actually almost twice as much as what Migration Watch Uk is saying. So quite frankly we don’t know. We do know that the Government have commissioned a report into this. We also know that the Government aren’t keen on telling the people the results of this report, which actually I think creates fear.
CHRIS MANN: Paul Nuttall, Deputy Leader of Ukip, thank you for joining us.