Spanish workers flock to UK in record numbers

More than 51,000 Spanish workers registered with Britain's Social Security in 2013, an annual rise of over 36 percent and more than from any other country except Poland, but some UK politicians want fewer arrivals from the EU.

Spanish workers flock to UK in record numbers
Only Poles are arriving to work in the UK in greater numbers than the Spanish, according to official UK statistics. File photo: Kake Pugh

Spanish workers are increasingly prepared to leave the sunshine behind, forgo their fiestas and break the language barrier in search of jobs in the UK, new figures show.

Britain's Office of National Statistics (ONS) revealed in a report published on Thursday that 51,730 Spaniards went to work in the UK in 2013, far higher than the 38,080 in 2012.

The figures are based national Insurance number allocations to adults.

Before the economic crisis only around 10,000 Spaniards worked in the UK, but with unemployment in Spain currently around 26 per cent, the job market in Britain, where there is only about 7 per cent unemployment, has become comparatively attractive.

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Italy and Portugal, also struggling with the repercussions of recessions, nabbed the third and fourth spots on the list of EU migrants.

Overall, the number of EU citizens arriving in the UK rose to 209,000 from 149,000 the previous year, the ONS said.

But immigration of non-EU citizens went down significantly from 269,000 to 244,000.

The report noted, "The most commonly stated reasons for immigrating to the UK are work-related."

Despite the statement, the UK's right-wing Conservative party, leaders of a coalition government with the Liberal Democrats, have emphasized their desire to restrict the trend.

Immigration minister James Brokenshaw told the  BBC, "It shows a very significant increase in migration from the EU itself — doubling — and that's why we remain focused on dealing with the abuse of free movement and also addressing some of those benefit and welfare factors that may be a pull factor to attract people to come to the UK."

He added that he would continue to push the EU for restrictions on the free movement of workers.

The Spanish are perhaps becoming bigger fans of Britain than the British themselves – in the year ending September 2013, 60,000 more British nationals emigrated from the UK than immigrated to the UK according to another recent ONS report.

Where did they go?

In many cases, to Spain. "Key destinations for British citizens are Australia, Spain, the United States, and France," wrote the ONS.

The British Embassy Madrid estimates there are close to 800,000 British people living in Spain.

Spain's El Mundo newspaper recently reported there were 73,659 Spaniards registered as living in the UK at the end of 2012, although the UK's Telegraph has argued the unofficial number could be twice as high.

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