Eastern European EU migration up 100% in Suffolk since referendum
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Eastern European EU migrants are still choosing to make a home in Suffolk amid Brexit uncertainty - but the rate people are coming to the country is slowing down.
The greatest rise among EU migrants was from eastern European countries that joined the EU in 2004, with an estimated 100% increase in two years.
EU citizen migration has increased in Suffolk since June 2016 overall, despite expert analysis describing the UK as a “less attractive destination”.
In Ipswich, manager of the Rasputin European supermarket in St Matthew’s Street, Igor Kharchenko, says that his Romanian customers are happy to work in Suffolk - and ready to leave if they have to.
He said: “If they feel unwanted, they will go elsewhere - France, Germany or Norway - and find work there.
“Many of the people that come here come for work alone or with their partners and send money home but they are apprehensive of what’s coming.
“It’s hard for them to keep living here when half the people in the country voted to leave the EU.”
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One eastern European member of staff, who asked to remain anonymous, said she is unfazed about changes to migration rules or fees for EU nationals who want to stay in the UK.
“I moved here and married an Englishman 20 years ago. I’ve watched this community come together and the kids grow up - if people want to stay they will pay,” she said.
Madeleine Sumption, director of the Migration Observatory at the University of Oxford, said: “The number of EU citizens living in the UK has increased since the referendum, but the pace of change is much slower than in the past.
“This is because fewer EU citizens are choosing to come to the UK and more are leaving. The UK has become a less attractive destination.
“Most EU citizens come to the UK for work, and the falling value of the pound means that what they can earn here is now worth less than it was a couple of years ago.
The rate of EU migration is slowing down, despite higher numbers of migrants settling in the county.
Mrs Sumption said that political and economic uncertainty of Brexit may also play a role.
The data shows that the number of EU migrants living in the area rose by 48% - from 31,000 to 46,000 - between June 2016 and June 2018, according to the Office for National Statistics.
The 48% increase in Suffolk is much greater than the national picture, with the UK seeing a 9% increase in the number of EU citizens on average.
European citizens accounted for 6.3% of Suffolk’s total population, slightly greater than the average of 5.7% for the UK.
Numbers of non-EU migrants in Suffolk dropped from 23,000 to 17,000 in the two years to June 2018.
Jay Lindop, director of the Centre for International Migration at the ONS, says that there are contrasting patterns for EU and non-EU migrants and that the reasons people choose to migrate are more complex than one factor.
She said: “Due to increasing numbers arriving for work and study, non-EU net migration is now at the highest level since 2004.
“In contrast, EU net migration, while still adding to the population as a whole, is at the lowest since 2012.