East Europeans Reach The Parts Others Can’t

East Europeans reach the parts others can't

Alan Travis, home affairs editor
Friday October 12, 2007
The Guardian

The recent arrival of eastern European workers in Britain has reached parts of the country that no other previous wave of immigration has reached, according to an official study published yesterday.

The Office of National Statistics says the arrival of Polish and other eastern European workers in Britain since they joined the European Union in May 2004 has turned out to be the “largest single wave of foreign in-movement ever experienced by the UK”.

Analysis of the 508,487 people from the new EU member states who have registered to work in Britain since 2004 provides for the first time a picture of their immigration at local level.

It shows that no part of the country has been left untouched by a wave of immigration that is overwhelmingly young (82% are 18-34), single (93%), and male (57%).

The ONS says that most of those coming to the UK in 2005 were in lower-skilled jobs – 82% – although many were well qualified in their own countries.

“Traditionally immigrants to the UK have tended to go to London and the south-east, the conurbations and a relatively small number of large towns and cities,” says the autumn 2007 edition of Population Trends, published yesterday. It says the workers' registration scheme data – although excluding the self-employed and taking no account of those who have gone home – confirms that has now changed: “The new population has spread widely across the UK, no part of the country being left untouched,” it says, with the largest concentrations by local authority in Westminster (15,021), Northampton (10,279) and Peterborough (7,110).

The ONS says that northern Scotland, Northern Ireland, eastern England – especially the Fens and north Norfolk – all have relatively high concentrations of Poles and others from eight countries that joined the EU in 2004.

There are also scattered concentrations across the Midlands, the south-west and the south-east of England. In contrast there are fewer migrants in Wales (especially the south), around the Thames estuary and in and around the large conurbations, including those in south Yorkshire, the north-west and the north-east.

More than 64% of the immigrants are Poles, whose distribution is officially described as “ubiquitous”.

The second largest group are the Lithuanians, who are spread around Britain in a quite different pattern from the Poles. Curiously, Lithuanians account for nine out of 10 east European migrants to Castle Morpeth in Northumberland.


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