Press Story

The analysis finds:

  • EU migrants are more likely to be in employment than other people in the UK. 83% of Eastern European migrants and 75% of migrants from other EU countries are working, compared to an employment rate of 74% for UK nationals and 62% for non-EU migrants
  • Eastern European migrants tend to work in low skilled sectors such as food processing and machinery operation, doing temporary or agency work, and are therefore paid on average £3 per hour less than UK nationals
  • EU migrants are more likely to claim tax credits and child benefit than UK nationals, but less likely to be receiving jobseeker’s allowance and other out-of-work benefits such as disability and sickness benefits
  • EU migrants are about as likely to live in social housing as others in the UK, but a higher proportion of them are privately renting. They are four times more likely to be living in overcrowded accommodation
  • EU migrants were more qualified on average, with 59% holding university or college qualifications compared to 34% of British residents

Marley Morris, IPPR Research Fellow, said:

“Our new analysis of the data on employment, welfare and housing paints a mixed picture of the impacts of EU migration on the UK. A large majority of EU migrants are in work and so are paying taxes rather than living off out-of-work benefits, but they are also more likely to be claiming in-work benefits than others in the workforce.

“Many Eastern Europeans, despite their qualifications, are working in low skilled sectors at low pay rates, which may be helping to plug some labour shortages but might also be sustaining low wages and poor conditions in some workplaces.

“Our analysis also suggests that EU migrants are more likely than others to live in the private rented sector, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t able to access scarce social housing. In fact their likelihood of living in social housing is about the same as the general population.”


Lester Holloway,, 07585 772 633
Sofie Jenkinson,, 07981 023 031

Notes for editors:

The Free Movement and the EU Referendum paper will be published at 00:01 on Friday 25th March on this link:

The term ‘Eastern European’ in this press release refers to the 13 member states that have joined since 2004, which includes many states in the region but also Cyprus and Malta. Those two islands have a very minor impact on the data.