Fear of immigration status change
We now know that Bulgarians and Romanians will get full access to the UK labour market from December 2013. But why are people from Eastern Europe who have already settled in the UK not so optimistic now.
Partly because they feel their jobs might be threatened in the UK. The UK Home Office is expecting many people from Bulgaria and Romania to arrive in the UK looking for work, although official estimates of the percentage of the 29 million citizens who might move do not exist. Possibly because people who have been ‘settled’ in Spain where every fourth person is unemployed now, Greece which is on its knees and very less welcoming (far right) and Italy which may be going the same way. All these hungry and job hunting people need somewhere to live and work. And not just Eastern Europeans, but people these Southern Europe countries too.
Like some of British people who believe Eastern Europeans have taken valuable jobs, those already settled Eastern Europeans feel that any new people arriving could damage their own prospects. Supply and demand could mean lower wages, and lower chances of employment. In unskilled areas, this might well be true.
The UK standard of living has eroded significantly since the start of the recession in 2007, this has impacted all people. Prices have risen sharply in recent years while wages have stagnated and working benefits have been capped below inflation or taken away altogether. Families are counting their pennies, and the lack of spending in shops mean may retail businesses are struggling to survive.
Their enforced self-employment status (some of which might be questionable) might be less easy to justify when they have full employment rights. This might make them less attractive to employ.
As with all fears, some are justified and some are the product of poorly thought out speculation. It is likely that those already here, who speak some English, and are genuinely self-employed or have established their own businesses are likely to have little to fear. Moreover, other European countries are also altering their immigration status for Bulgarians and Romanians, like Germany and Norway.