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Why the Poles Keep Coming to the UK

Posted on: 18.09.2012    17:45:57

As an international recruitment agency you have to follow migration trends and today’s Telegraph article about Polish workers caught my attention as it was through the importation of Polish workers in 2005 that we had our first taste of employing Eastern European labour at a time a skills shortages in the UK.

So what are the ongoing incentives for Polish Migration?

  • With a reduction in unemployment in Poland suggests that a major driver of more recent Polish migration has been the considerably higher standard of living in the UK and the potential to make savings in the UK which translate into significant sums of money in Poland. Anecdotal evidence suggests that single workers often live in multiple occupancy housing as a means of keeping costs down; most migrants from the A8 plan to stay in the UK for less than four years and do not see their move as permanent.
  • 2012 movement has been stimulated by the weakness of the Euro making Sterling denominated wages seem so much higher
  • In the UK, a single person earning the minimum wage will take home £254 per week after tax but including benefits. This is an annual income of just over £13,200. If Polish workers were to make a modest saving of 20%, they would be saving about £50 per week. Yet this weekly saving is the equivalent of around 250 Polish Zloty at the current exchange rate – roughly what a worker would earn in a week in Poland on the minimum wage.
  • An individual in the UK who has a dependent spouse and two children, earning the minimum wage would receive a weekly income, including benefits, of £543, or annually just over £28,200. Again, if a Polish family made a 20% weekly saving, this would equate to around £110 which is worth 540 in Polish Zloty. In Poland, a person in the same circumstances would have a weekly income of 375 Zloty (after tax and including benefits). Thus, if they could save 20% of their earnings in the UK, they would be saving almost one and a half times what they would have earned in Poland.
  • Aside from the savings that can be made in the UK which translate into significant sums of money in their native Poland, a family is able to enjoy a far better standard of living in the UK than at home.
  • In Poland a family on the minimum wage would have a weekly income of 375 Zloty. Once the differing costs of living have been accounted for, this is the equivalent of around £145. In the UK, the same family on the minimum wage would have a weekly income of £543 which is almost four times what they would earn at home. Even a family which had been in the favourable position of being on the average wage in Poland would still be able to increase their standard of living significantly. At home they would have a weekly income of around 615 Zloty. Once the differing costs of living have been accounted for, this is the equivalent of around £235. In the UK however, their income on the minimum wage would be £543 or almost two and a half times as much as they would receive at home.

The Poles are very astute operators and we are certainly suffering a degree of benefit tourism but we shouldn’t be blaming the polish workers they did not create the overarching European Union legislation. This was done by the politicians that we voted for so need to shoulder our share of responsibility.

We have employed 1000’s of Polish workers over the years but feel it is significant that whereas in 2005 they asked, upon arrival, where the nearest catholic church was today they ask where the nearest job centre is and look to access our welfare state support upon arrival.

Of course the restrictions on Bulgarians and Romanians expires sometime in 2014 for those not already working here illegally!

 

Author: Chris Slay

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