The number of Romanians given the right to enter the UK job market shot up by over 200 per cent in the year since entry restrictions on them were lifted. The number of Bulgarians granted the same right also rose by more than 120 per cent.
According to official government figures, a total of 152,360 Romanians and 40,580 Bulgarians were given government registration.
The extraordinarily high figures mean that nearly one in five of all work permits granted by the Department for Work and Pensions in the year to March 2015 was to Romanian migrants. More permits were granted to Romanians than any other nationality, pushing Poland, which had 115,606, into second place.
Restrictions were originally put in place when Romanian and Bulgaria joined the EU in 2007, limiting their citizens to seasonal jobs such as fruit picking as well as self-employment. Those restrictions were lifted in January last year, and these latest figures confirm the fears of those who warned of a migrant influx.
At the time, both UKIP and pressure group Migration Watch were derided by the left wing press for scaremongering over the high level of new arrivals. Migration Watch predicted 50,000 new immigrants a year from Romania and Bulgaria, while UKIP warned “the floodgates will open”.
In fact, the number is nearly four times higher than predicted.
Nearly every EU nation saw a rise in the number of work permits granted, although Latvia and Estonia were exceptions, with a 15 per cent and 8 per cent decrease respectively. Lithuania also saw a 1.2 per cent drop.
The top five nations for immigration into the UK are now Romania, Poland, Italy, Spain and Bulgaria.
Migration Watch’s chairman, Lord Green of Deddington, said: “The latest figures are appalling. We need to stop and think where this mass immigration is leading. It points to a probable increase of three million in the UK population over the next five years in the face of very strong public opinion. Any further cuts in resources for immigration control would be absurd.”
Alp Mehmet, also of Migration Watch, told the Times: “It is a huge number and it shows this country is a magnet for migrants.
“We are a magnet for poor people whose circumstances are woefully below ours and are totally wretched. That is the reason why people are looking for a country where their lives can significantly improve.”
Daniel Chira of Diaspora, a Romanian newspaper, said that most migrants come to do construction work and cleaning, while “maybe 10 per cent do office jobs.”
UKIP leader Nigel Farage tweeted today:
This time last year everyone said I was wrong. Number of Romanians given right to work in UK up 223% http://t.co/wmsq71lBNj
— Nigel Farage (@Nigel_Farage) June 4, 2015