Immigration: are you more clued-up than the British public?

immigrationHere’s your starter for three:

People sometimes talk about ‘net immigration’, meaning the difference between the number of people coming to Britain each year to live, and the number leaving Britain to live in another country. What do you think is the current level of net immigration into Britain? If you are not sure, please give your best guess.

More than two million a year
Between one and two million a year
Between 500,000 and one million a year
Between 400,000 and 500,000 a year
Between 300,000 and 400,000 a year
Between 200,000 and 300,000 a year
Between 100,000 and 200,000 a year
Between 50,000 and 100,000 a year
Less than 50,000 a year

And what do you think is the current level of ‘net immigration’ just from the rest of the European Union? If you are not sure, please give your best guess.

More than two million a year
Between one and two million a year
Between 500,000 and one million a year
Between 400,000 and 500,000 a year
Between 300,000 and 400,000 a year
Between 200,000 and 300,000 a year
Between 100,000 and 200,000 a year
Between 50,000 and 100,000 a year
Less than 50,000 a year

According to official statistics, around 2.3 million people living in Britain are immigrants from the rest of the European Union. How many of them do you think are currently claiming the main unemployment benefit, the Job seekers Allowance? If you are not sure, please give your best guess.

Fewer than 100,000
100,000-200,000
200,000-300,000
300,000-400,000
400,000-500,000
500,000-600,000
600,000-700,000
700,000-800,000
800,000-900,000
900,000 – one million
More than one million

And the correct answers are… (courtesy YouGov’s Peter Kellner)

Number of immigrants coming to UK each year: 200-300,000.
Only 15% of the British public had the figure in the right range, with 40% overstating the true figure and 25% under-stating it.

Number of immigrants from EU: 100-200,000.
Only 14% of the British public had the figure in the right range, with 41% overstating it and 22% understating it.

Number of immigrants from the EU claiming Job Seekers’ Allowance: c.60,000 (about 3%).
The median answer from the British public was 300,000, or five times the true figure. Among Ukip supporters, the median is 500,000.

How did you do?

* Stephen was Editor (and Co-Editor) of Liberal Democrat Voice from 2007 to 2015, and writes at The Collected Stephen Tall.

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36 Comments

  • I’m no Maths Genius but isn’t 60’000 of 200’000 30% not 3%

  • James BLESSING 3rd Nov '14 - 8:21pm

    Try adding the current number of “migrants” in the UK from the EU and the current number of UK citizens living in the EU and see where people go 🙂

  • I got every answer right.

  • Malcolm Todd 3rd Nov '14 - 9:21pm

    matt
    It’s 3% of the total number of EU migrants in the UK (i.e. of about 2 million) – The figure of 100–200,000 is the net annual immigration from the EU.

  • Thanks Malcolm.

    That will teach me a lesson for not reading the article in its entirety lol.

    I had no idea what the answers would be, so I skipped to the bottom of the page for the answers and read

    “Number of immigrants from EU: 100-200,000.
    Only 14% of the British public had the figure in the right range, with 41% overstating it and 22% understating it.

    Number of immigrants from the EU claiming Job Seekers’ Allowance: c.60,000 (about 3%).

    Thats why I posted my comment. I put my hands up to being a complete tool.
    Lesson learnt for the day,

    Thanks for pointing that out 😉

  • Stevan Rose 3rd Nov '14 - 10:24pm

    How do we know the net figures? The 2011 Census is now 3 years out of date. We don’t keep a record of inward migrants from the EU, and we definitely don’t keep records of those that leave. One thing I would like to known is how many of the 60,000 JSA claimants have actually made NI contributions prior to the claim. That would be useful when dealing with UKIP trolls.

  • has Norman Baker really resigned as Minister ? If he has, is this why?

  • Maybe not quite on topic, but I’d like to pay tribute to Norman Baker who both at the Home Office and before that at the Department of Transport has made me proud to be a Liberal Democrat, which is more than some of our other ministers have, sadly.

  • How many arrive in or under trucks

    How many asylum seekers are here and unaccounted for

    How many of our residents out of work for over a year would have work if the numbers were lower

    How much faster might an appointment be available at a gp practice a friend recently waited 4 weeks

    Numbers are relevant when you investigate the meaning in context of its affect on residents here already

  • David Evershed 4th Nov '14 - 1:10am

    Probably the main difficulty with immigration is that immigrants tend to cluster in the same area.

    This is to be expected as overseas friends and contacts will want to be close when they come here and the firms who recruit from overseas will perhaps only be in certain areas and not others.

    Then because of the concentration of immigration there will be pressure on housing, doctors and schools in those areas. Also the immigrants’ culture and language will start to take over in those areas.

    So it is the local concentration of immigrants rather than the absolute numbers on which we need better information about.

  • The largest group of immigrants from outside the EU are now the Chinese and they are widespread throughout the UK. Of couse overseas students should not be counted as immigrants as they are now.I don’t think there is any question of any “take over”of culture by the Chinese or any other group for that matter.
    The main problems in Britain are economic .The young people of Britain need to feel they have a future.

  • Let’s be honest 200-300,000 a year is not a small number. The main problem isn’t this, that or the other. It’s that the vast majority of the population 72-77% want it drastically reduced or ended altogether.

  • Malcolm Todd 4th Nov '14 - 8:00am

    You’re welcome, matt! I’m sure the opportunity will arise before too long for you to point out a similar trip on my part…

  • Allan 3rd Nov ’14 – 11:30pm

    Allan,

    Neither you nor I know how many people coming to live in this country “arrive in or under trucks” as you charmingly phrase it.
    I assume you are trying to be deliberately provocative and unpleasant by phrasing it in this way.
    If for the sake of argument we restrict ourselves to discussing those people who are so desperate to get to the UK that they take all the risks of arriving here “under” a truck, one has to assume that the number is very, very small indeed.

    As for your later question — “…How much faster might an appointment be available at a gp practice ?.”
    At my GP surgery if you removed all the doctors who are immigrants or the children of immigrants there would be very, very much longer waiting times to see a doctor.
    Have you not noticed that over the last 70 years the NHS has recruited trained doctors from all over the world?
    Do you not realise that the NHS has grown and become more successful simply because of the invaluable impact of doctors, not to mention all the nurses and other medical professionals who have come here to work in the NHS?
    Can you not make the simple calculation that fewer doctors equals longer waiting times?

  • Igor Sagdejev 4th Nov '14 - 9:17am

    @David Evershed “So it is the local concentration of immigrants rather than the absolute numbers on which we need better information about.”

    Visit Boston in Lincolnshire on a weekend. The area immediately West of the town centre.

  • Igor Sagdejev 4th Nov '14 - 9:23am

    @JohnTilley “Do you not realise that the NHS has grown and become more successful simply because of the invaluable impact of doctors, not to mention all the nurses and other medical professionals who have come here to work in the NHS?”

    When we leave the EU and take control of our borders and our destiny, we can bring those doctors and nurses on temporary visas, and send them back when they retire or otherwise lose their jobs. Then they will not endanger the natural habitat of our little island and our English culture so much.

  • The question of legal migration around the EU by its citizens is almost irrelevant against the really big and rarely mentioned issue of mass uncontrolled migration from poverty and war stricken areas of the world.

    I have just returned from Greece where on the island of Symi I saw dozens and dozens of Syrian refugees arriving daily from the camps in Turkey. Many of them are dispossessed middle class professionals who have spent what they have left paying people smugglers.

    All the Greek authorities can do is process them, send them up to Athens where they are then left to travel to friends and family already in western Europe. Earlier in the year I experienced a similar situation in Malta this time with African migrants.

    These desperate people don’t care about rules and regulations, immigration controls, lines on maps, border posts or Nigel Farage. They just want to get somewhere where no one is shooting at them and where they have some sort of chance of a better life.

    The fact is that if we as a country, along with others, don’t do everything we can to help improve security and economies in other parts of the world their populations will just up and leave. Rather like many British people did in the past.

  • Nigel Jones 4th Nov '14 - 11:00am

    I think the figures do need to be repeated over and over again in the hope that they eventually convey the right message, but those who are being swayed to vote Ukip will need more than just figures for them to see it as it really is. Immigration does need to be handled better and that includes the way it operates within the EU, but it is being exaggerated (as the figures show) and used as usual by people as a scapegoat, when the underlying problems of skills, jobs and housing for younger people are the major issues that need to be tackled. A recent analysis by the Director of the National Institute of Economic and Social Research (according to an article in the Independent on 20 Oct) of the situation in Clacton has shown this to be the case there.

  • Daniel Henry 4th Nov '14 - 11:11am

    Two out of three (I underestimated EU immigration)
    That said, I’ve been exposed to these actual figures before, and on the third one the 3% figure actually popped to mind.

    I think a large part of anti-immigration is also fear of the unknown.
    UKIP tends to do best in places where there aren’t any immigrants, and not so well in places where there are and people are actually familiar with what they’re really like.

  • Daniel.
    Of course UKIP do better in areas with fewer immigrants! All it really proves is that immigrants are unlikely to vote UKIP. What a shock.
    I live in Leicester. all that actually happens when you get lots diverse communities is that everyone moves to be closer to people they’re most comfortable with. You can pretty much breakdown Leicester’s ethnic make up by post-code. There’s lots of reasons for this. Some cultural, some work related and some down to housing allocation. Council’s for instance run housing swap schemes which means that ethnic and religious communities tend to bunch together even if they are on low incomes.

  • Daniel Henry 4th Nov '14 - 12:57pm

    I also live in Leicester Glenn. 🙂
    You’re probably right that there’s areas of concentration rather than an “even spread”, but while integration might not be “perfect”, it’s more than workable and as far as I’m aware there aren’t real ethnic or racial tensions here.

    Your “immigrant vote” argument doesn’t stack up though.
    1) Even if there was the bloc immigrant vote that you suggest, it wouldn’t be enough to account for the results in the EU election. Fact is, inner cities where people have first hand actual experience of immigration largely didn’t swallow UKIP’s scaremongering. It was places without real experience of immigration where it was most likely to happen, suggesting it was more “fear of the unknown”.

    2) I don’t think there’s really a bloc “immigrant vote” your argument suggests there is.
    In Leicester, is there even a clear line over who’s an immigrant and who isn’t? You have Asians who immigrated in the 60s and 70s who have lived in Leicester twice as long as I have, (still count as immigrants?) some of whom are now concerned about Eastern Europeans coming and taking jobs… UKIP even fielded an Asian candidate in the 2011 by election.

    Again, it seems that a community with first hand experience of what immigration is actually like wasn’t taken in by the scaremongering. I’m not saying there isn’t any problems or difficulties associated with immigration, but it’s certainly not the nightmare that the right try to scapegoat it as.

  • @Igor Sagdejev – “When we leave the EU” – if we do that then we will have to accept free movement of people if we want access to the EU market.

    So the “and take control of our borders” bit won’t happen (assuming by that you mean stopping immigration from the EU).

    As to the “and our destiny” part – what exactly do you mean by that?

    EU immigrants are, by and large, young, fit and well educated. They are net contributors – just what a country with an aging population and a serious skills shortage needs. Moreover we didn’t have to pay for their education – bargain! If I was prime minister of Poland I’d be furious at losing such valuable people.

    In the long term, as a nation, we have to make a lot more of our human capital. Some serious cultural change is needed. A good start would be to make statements such as “I’m no good at maths” or “I have no qualifications” deeply shameful rather than the badge of ironic pride that they are in the UK (as opposed to say Germany).

  • Igor Sagdejev 4th Nov '14 - 2:16pm

    @JUF “we will have to accept free movement of people if we want access to the EU market”

    (UKIP mode ON)
    How does Korea trade with the EU? We can do the same. If they won’t have it, we can trade with Russia and Nigeria instead, and the Germans can eat their cars!
    (UKIP mode OFF)

  • Further to my comment above, we also need to view education, for all of us, as a lifelong process, not something that happens between the ages of 4 and 18.

  • @Igor Sagdejev – have you ever been through the labyrinthine process of getting a business visa for Russia? I have – the last time I went it added an additional £2k to the cost of my trip.

    Whereas if I have a project in Malaga or Poland, I just get on a plane, and I don’t have to ask anyone for permission.

    There is a large but rarely mentioned group number of Brits who live and work across the EU. I remember having a conversation with a colleague a couple of years ago who had been offered a UK role. He decided to turn it down – “it feels like a demotion”. I agreed – “if you’re used to the Champion’s League, why take a job with a club who will never escape from domestic football?”

  • Daniel,
    fair point to an extent However, there are voting blocks in Leicester much as there are anywhere else. Now you mention the Asian community not falling for UKIP but is this really because they are more tolerant of cultural diversity or is it because they tend block vote for Labour and view UKIP as a threat. Sure, there’s very little racial tension in Leicester, but on other hand how much of it is down to self segregation.
    I would never vote UKIP, barely any of my family are British beyond a couple of generations. I’m just very unconvinced by claims that UKIPs appeal comes down lack of integration or ignorance. I think that a lot of people just don’t like the EU or mass immigration and never did and now they have a semi-respectable party to vote for.

  • How does South Korea trade with the EU? They learn English, have lower priced products and big companies (Chaebols). Britain can’t compete on costs with the far east.

  • @Manfarang – good point. That’s why we need a better educated workforce, and higher levels of investment so we can compete on quality and productivity.

  • Igor Sagdejev 4th Nov '14 - 5:05pm

    @JUF
    Better educated work force? There’s little incentive left for students, with a huge debt from tuition fees and a rather modest difference in pay between people with most Uni degrees and many of those without.

  • The trouble is that ‘net immigration’ is simply measuring a difference; whilst it broadly tells us that more people are staying than leaving each year and have been doing so for many years, underneath this headline figure we shouldn’t forget there is also a significant change in the ‘resident’ population of between 200~300,000 per annum in addition to the 200~300,000 headlined ‘net immigration’. Once we start talking about the 526,000 people [ONS figure for YE Dec 2013] who come to Britain each year (not forgetting the 314,000 people who leave Britain each year), the basis for people’s concerns become more obvious as do the challenges this number of new residents present.

  • Stevan Rose 4th Nov '14 - 10:49pm

    But where do these numbers come from when no-one from the EU is counted in as a migrant, or out. They show their EU passport at the border and it’s no-one’s business why they’ve come. And when they go no-one asks if they’re going on holiday or forever. It’s the same for Brits coming and going to Europe. It’s real finger in the air guesswork. Are students included? There are lots of them spending thousands on tuition and living expenses.

    NHS dentistry is only available in many areas due to EU migration and an excellent job many of them do.

    Better educated… we need a big boost in vocational education not more media studies and history of fine art graduates.

  • Igor
    There are professional qualifications including in the science field and these can more difficult than degree courses.
    There needs to be more sponsorship to ensure a highly educated technical workforce.There is a lot that can be done to bring this about .There is no going back to the days when many left school without qualifications.
    Note that in the far east where eduication is valued, the countries there are getting ahead.

  • JUF and Manfarang,
    Don’t get me wrong, I support better education, but Britain’s problem is that we like a lot of countries are importers of goods and services. Outside of the financial sector we are reliant on cheap goods and cheap labour. It’s the inbuilt fault line in the kind of capitalism we practice. The idea the way out of this is a better educated workforce is as simplistic as anything UKIP are saying. We have growth in part-time and low paid service industry work. Unemployment is already going down not up, but wages are getting lower. A better educated workforce will simply mean that you will have better educated people working in Poundland or Primark. This is what happens when you reduce the financial status of work, give up on manufacturing and run everything for the benefit of shareholders, A trip into any local town centre will reveal the growth areas to be fast food, cheap retail and knock-offs. In some ways you could argue that our internal economy actually resembles those of the far east in that it is reliant on a crowded population doing lots of small things at a financial level that people on low incomes can afford.

  • “But where do these numbers come from when no-one from the EU is counted in as a migrant, or out. ” (Stevan Rose 4th Nov ’14 – 10:49pm)

    Unless you’re a mathematician, statistics can seem like a conjuring trick, particularly when the data is from survey questions which require people to be honest etc.

    However, in the ONS data is some hard data – if not then we really need to be asking questions!

    So for example we should know exactly how many students (people here for “formal study”) from both the EU and RoW (rest of the world), with such data being verifiable through visa applications and education establishment records. According to ONS (YE Dec 2013), there was a total of 177,000 new ‘long-term’ immigrants in this category, of which 40,000 were from the EU. According to IIE.org, the total number of international students in the UK was around 490,000 in 2011-12 (can’t seem to place my hands on either ONS data or more recent data) out of a total student population of 2.3~2.5 million (source: HESA).

    From this short example, it would seem that the area would benefit from some real collation of results into something more readily accessible to the public at large.

  • Stevan Rose 5th Nov '14 - 11:07pm

    “However, in the ONS data is some hard data – if not then we really need to be asking questions!”

    Well EU students don’t need visas but the establishments may be reporting back. NI number applications might tell you who is working. Neither tell you about families accompanying the student or worker. Neither tells you who went home and who stayed. No-one measures retirees. Or self-supporting job seekers. ONS cannot collate data that has not been collected. This is guesswork with no basis. About as accurate as those who claim to be able to put a number on illegal immigration – no-one actually knows, that’s the nature of illegal immigration. Unless you collect purpose of entry data and count people out it is all baloney. Except once a decade, last time 2011.

  • Stevan Rose – I agree the ONS data does leave a lot to be desired and it doesn’t help that it doesn’t distinguish between the different data types (ie. evidenced, survey’ed, calculated, guessimated).

    A challenge, particularly at the present time to the Conservatives and LibDems, is that this situation hasn’t changed much since 2010 and hence to some extent undermines their statements about improving reporting etc.

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