120,000 Romanians and Bulgarians have already moved to Britain: Census shows in some parts of the country one in ten are Eastern EuropeanFears of major influx when travel restrictions lifted at the end of the yearIn Boston, Lincolnshire, 10.7 per cent of population are Eastern EuropeanPM announced plans to make access to social benefits harder for migrants
23:53 GMT, 26 March 2013
02:04 GMT, 27 March 2013
Nearly 120,000 Romanians and Bulgarians have already moved to Britain despite not yet being allowed to work freely in this country, official figures showed yesterday.
The data from the 2011 census showed that migration to Britain – at a rate equivalent to 30,000 a year – began as soon as the two countries joined the EU.
The disclosure is fresh evidence that a major movement of Romanian and Bulgarian citizens is likely when restrictions are lifted at the end of the year.
Findings: The census found that in some parts of the country almost one in 10 of the population are citizens of Eastern European countries
The 119,101 Romanians and Bulgarians are among just under 1 million Eastern European citizens now living in Britain, almost all of whom arrived under open-border rules after their countries joined the EU in 2004 and 2007, the census showed.
It found that in some parts of the country almost one in 10 of the population are citizens of Eastern European countries.
In Boston, Lincolnshire – the town that sparked a fierce argument over the impact of immigration on BBC TV’s Question Time – 10.7 per cent of the population are Eastern European passport-holders.
The figures were released at a time of increased political tension over immigration, amid fears of a large-scale influx of Bulgarians and Romanians next year.
Plans: Prime Minister David Cameron promised to make it harder for migrants from outside Europe to get NHS treatment and social housing, and for those from inside the EU to claim state benefits
Earlier this week David Cameron tried to reassure voters with promises to make it harder for migrants from outside Europe to get NHS treatment and social housing, and for those from inside the EU to claim state benefits.
Detailed breakdowns published yesterday showed numbers of foreign citizens living in Britain, counted by those who gave their passport nationality on census forms, and of those who declared on the census form the country of their birth.
The real totals may be higher because some – in particular immigrants – have in the past proved reluctant to fill in census forms or provide the full details they demand.
Yesterday’s figures showed there were 73,208 Romanian passport holders in England and Wales on the day the census was taken – 27 March 2011.
No details of Bulgarian passport holders were made public, but the figures showed there were 45,893 who said they were born in Bulgaria.
The census was taken just over four years after the two countries joined the EU, under an agreement that while their citizens would be allowed to travel to and live in Britain, they would not be able to work here as employees.
Those rules have now been lifted and Romanians and Bulgarians get free access to the labour market from 1 January next year.
Sir Andrew Green, of the MigrationWatch think-tank, said: ‘These figures validate our projection that 50,000 people a year will come when citizens of the two countries get free access to the labour market in the New Year.’
The figure does not include 22,000 workers who come as seasonal fruit pickers under a summer work-permit scheme, and then return home.
Census figures gave an official figure of 988,123 Eastern European citizens present in the country in March 2011 – including 588,082 Poles, 104,676 Lithuanians, and 73,208 Romanians.
Around one and a half million people from the eight Eastern European countries that joined the EU in 2004 are thought to have lived and worked in Britain at some stage.
The census showed the highest concentration of Eastern European citizens in any town in Britain was in Boston, with 10.7 per cent of the population.
The town was at the centre of controversy in January after Cambridge academic Mary Beard told BBC Question Time that local fears over immigration were a ‘myth’ and that ‘public services can cope’.
She was rebuked by businesswoman Rachel Bull, who said services were at ‘breaking point’.