On 8th August the Migration Matters Trust (MMT), chaired by Barbara Roche and co-chaired by Gavin Barwell MP published their estimate of immigration from Romania and Bulgaria which they put at 20,000 for 2014.,.
On 18 August an article in The Observer quoted Atul Hatwal the Director of the MMT as saying that higher claims were “unfounded and inflammatory”. This, of course, deliberately conflated our estimate of 50,000 with much higher estimates mentioned by some back bench MPs with no connection with Migration Watch. This did not prevent Mr Hatwal from suggesting that our “anti migrant campaigns” were based on “prejudice” rather than evidence.
We dismiss such obvious smears. We do not, of course, run anti migrant campaigns and we are glad to stand by our estimate which is fully set out in our Briefing paper.
Our central estimate is that the population in the UK of migrants from Romania and Bulgaria combined will increase by 50,000 a year for the next five years. This will be the figure recorded in the Office National Statistics Annual Population Survey which gives a breakdown of the UK population by country of birth. It is recognised by both the ONS and Migration Watch that the net migration figures (LTIM) based on the International Passenger Survey have historically under-recorded net migration from Eastern Europe. If this pattern continues, the recorded LTIM data for Bulgarians and Romanians will be about half the increase in the annual population i.e. around 25,000.
This important distinction between recorded immigration and actual population increase seems to have been completely missed by the Migration Matters Trust who have come up with a figure of 20,000. It is not clear what this figure is intended to refer to but if it is the LTIM data then it is only slightly different from our own.
However, the thinking behind the MMT estimate is very weak indeed. It is based on the thesis, buried in a footnote, that the proportion of migrants from Romania and Bulgaria who choose the UK as a destination will not be affected by the opening of our labour market. This is absurd given the increase in migration already observed and our experience with the A8. The former was discounted by the MMT on the grounds that this included those here on short term seasonal work, such as the SAWS scheme. That, however, is unlikely as the Labour Force Survey is only a survey of private households so it would not pick up those in communal accommodation as most such workers are.
It is true that, on this occasion, other countries such as Germany and The Netherlands will open their labour markets. It is also the case, however, that there are nearly one million Romanians in Spain and a similar number in Italy. There is very high unemployment in both those countries. Indeed, the Spanish government reported to the EU Commission in 2011 that 30% of Romanian migrants were unemployed. It is surely quite possible that some will re-emigrate to Northern European countries.
It seems as though the MMT are trying to set up a bench mark around the absurd figure of 300,000 in 2014 so as to claim that any lower figure proves that “the opponents of migration will have been exposed as doing nothing more than to pursue a partisan and divisive political agenda.” This is simply ludicrous.
20 August 2013
 MMT have excluded any SAWS workers who decide to stay on. However, these workers would not be counted as immigrants in the LTIM stats because they only came for six months. If they stayed they might later add to the annual population estimate but the original purpose of their arrival is not a reason to exclude them. They still add to the pressures on public services.