Firstly, a few words about the notorious paedophile Europhile Sir Edward Heath. We never got on, indeed he despised me, something that caused me no loss of sleep at all.
I have been patronised and belittled for some years now over my analysis, shared with that nice man David Icke, that the late Sir Edward was a paedophile, so I am sure that readers will forgive a little schadenfreude on my part. The headline in this week’s Mail on Sunday was rather gratifying.
In case anybody hasn’t read the Mail article, Operation Conifer, Wiltshire Constabulary’s investigation into Heath and his criminal accomplices, some of whom are still alive, is not relying upon “Nick”, the decoy put up by GO2 in a pathetic attempt to damage the entirely credible allegations against Heath. Wiltshire happen to be about the least corrupt police force in the UK, by the way.
With the House of Lords due this week to debate an amendment to the Brexit bill this may be an appropriate moment to bust the myth that EU migrants pay their way. The media have bought into the idea that if EU migrants as a class cover their welfare benefits with tax they are not costing us anything! This is risible, economically-illiterate nonsense.
The key thing to remember is that the majority of EU migrants are semi-skilled or unskilled. Even when they have skills they are rarely making up for skills gaps in the UK. It follows that nearly all of the 3 million or so economic migrants from the EU are displacing British workers. They may be paying enough in tax to cover their own benefits, although even that is debatable, but they are NOT paying in enough in tax to cover the welfare costs of the workers they are displacing.
The direct displacement costs are substantial. It’s not the cost of the Jobseekers Allowance (JSA), around £3,500 a year, it’s also the Housing Benefit (HB) cost. Depending upon the region, HB can easily be double the amount of JSA. Then there is the cost of free prescriptions and Council Tax benefit. JSA recipients cannot afford to pay their own way. Then there are the in-work benefits, such as Child Benefit and Tax Credits, paid to EU migrant workers. Total welfare and free prescription costs probably average out at about £12,500 a year per displaced worker.
However even this probably only represents about half the cost of each EU migrant. They are entitled whilst they are here to NHS treatment and free schooling for their children. These costs can be considerable. I am not including family members in the 3 million figure.
Then there is congestion. Nigel Farage was mocked during the referendum campaign for his entirely sensible suggestion that EU migrants were making the traffic worse. Three million workers adds up to a lot of extra congestion, particularly in London and the South-East. Each mph by which average traffic speed is reduced costs the country about £2.5 billion a year in lost GDP.
The media never take the costs of the higher crime rate due to EU migration into account. There are two aspects: crimes, including serious motoring offences such as drink driving, committed by EU nationals, and the higher domestic crime rate due to unemployment. If you increase unemployment you drive up the crime rate. Where the migrants have failed to learn English there are increased police and court cost due to the need for translators.
The media also tend to assume that EU workers pay tax and NI. In fact many work in areas such as the building trade and fruit-picking, where tax evasion is a known phenomenon. We cannot therefore assume that all EU migrants are paying tax and NI. Since no official figures are kept, we do not know the precise numbers, not that official figures are always precise! The number of EU tax evaders probably does not exceed 25% of the total, but it’s unlikely to be less than 10%.
Then there are the economic costs imposed by the large sterling outflow. Unskilled and semi-skilled British workers spend almost all of their earnings in the UK. EU migrants repatriate a fair percentage of their earnings to Europe. There could be as much as £20 billion a year flowing out of the country.
The numbers are so large that they are driving up rents and housing costs generally, particularly in the South-East. Aside from the inflationary effect, this is hampering recruitment for the NHS and public services generally, as people find it difficult to find affordable accommodation.
At the same time as driving up rents this large influx of cheap labour is also depressing wages. Depressing wages is not a good idea – aside from the social cost, wages may be depressed below the level at which state subsidies such as Tax Credits kick in.
Whilst a precise calculation of the cost is not possible, the total cost per EU migrant probably lies within a range of £20,000 to £25,000. That puts the overall burden at around £60 to £75 billion a year. Since we are still in the EU and running a deficit, inevitably, given the huge costs of membership, every penny of that will have to be borrowed.
The House of Lords needs to think very carefully about defying the House of Commons and imposing these sorts of costs on the economy. You can forget the polls on this issue – I am quite sure that none of the pollsters is taking care to explain the cost of retaining EU workers in the UK.