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Last Updated: Thursday, 11 October 2007, 16:27 GMT 17:27 UK
Migrant workers settle across UK
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New migrants are not automatically choosing life in the big city
New arrivals to the UK from eastern Europe are settling further afield than traditional immigrant groups, according to a new study.

The Office for National Statistics report shows people moving from the eight new European Union countries are spreading out across the country.

The majority of new migrants, or 64%, are from Poland, while Lithuanians are the second largest group at 11%.

In the past, immigrants have been reluctant to move beyond large cities.

Remote areas

The ONS population trends report for autumn 2007 tracked new immigrants from the eight EU countries admitted since May 2004 based on where they registered to work.

The report, using data collected between 2004 and December 2006 on more than 500,000 migrants, shows that smaller communities in the north and west of England and parts of Scotland are attracting more new migrants than ever before.

While in sheer numbers, the south and east of England is still seeing the most new arrivals, as a proportion of overall population, remote areas are seeing more new settlers.

"Traditionally, immigrants to the UK have tended to go predominantly to London and the South East," the report states, adding that the willingness of EU migrants to settle in other parts of the UK is changing the face of immigration.

Mostly young adults

The report singles out the town of Gedling in the East Midlands - population 112,000 - for its newly ballooned Polish community of 2,356, and goes on to say that a disproportionate number are working more than 40 hours a week.

While nationally Poles account for 64% of eastern European migrants, in Gedling that number soars to 98%.

Migrants from the A8 are very mobile, mostly young and with less family ties. They are motivated by employment opportunities.
David Reilly
Positive Action in Housing

"A particularly high proportion of the A8 (new member states) population of Gedling in the East Midlands worked longer hours - almost five times the UK proportional average."

It also says that Poles have not penetrated into Northern Ireland in significant numbers, but that the province is proving popular with Lithuanian migrants, who are also settling in the southeast, London, western Cornwall and Herefordshire.

In straight numbers, the City of London appears to have the highest percentage of new arrivals, but the report says that figure is somewhat skewed since the data is based on the addresses of employers, not employees and the Square Mile is disproportionately commercial rather than residential.

In other parts of Britain, such as Boston and Peterborough, the data translates into a better picture of communities that have seen a significant rise in immigrant populations.

Lure of jobs

David Reilly of Positive Action in Housing, a Scottish agency that helps settle minority communities, said the willingness of new migrants from Europe to spread out across the UK is a reflection of their motivations.

"Migrants from the A8 are very mobile, mostly young and with less family ties," he said of their open approach to where they settle. "They are motivated by employment opportunities."

Mr Reilly said that while previous generations of immigrants tended to cluster in urban areas, the newer EU arrivals are less likely to face discrimination should they choose to try life in more remote areas.

"They are young, highly educated and able to look after each other and they are not from as visible a minority community," Mr Reilly said of some of the fears of racism that might have kept previous waves of immigrants in larger cities.

The study states that one in five new migrants from eastern Europe register to work in the hospitality and catering industry, while others are drawn to construction and retail sales.

The ONS study does not take into account migrants who are self-employed as the data is based on people who list an employer.

Eastern European migrants earn an average wage of between 4.50 and 5.99 an hour.

By law, minimum wage for those over 22 is 5.52, for those aged 18-21 it is 4.60 and for 16-17 year-olds, it is 3.40.

The study also shows that the vast majority, or 83% of people moving to the UK are between the ages of 18-34, 58% are men and almost 94% have no dependents.

"The population is overwhelmingly a young adult one," the study states.

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