Foreign (overseas) nationals who want to gain employment “or claim benefits / tax credits in the UK” (Department for Work and Pensions 2012, p. 1) are required to attain a NINo.
However, total allocations of NINos to nationals from the rest of the EU have risen by 6.6% for the period from 2010/11 to 2011/12. This rise is due to an increase in numbers for a few countries only; the three countries with the highest rise were Spain with an increase in registrations of 24.6% compared to the previous year, Portugal rising by 24.3% and Greece by 53.6% (Department for Work and Pensions 2012, p. 10).
The fact that all of these countries have unemployment rates higher than the UK with 8% in 2011 (in comparison to Spain (21.7%), Portugal (12.9%) and Greece 17.7% (Eurostat 2013, Table 2)) could suggest that this is the main reason for the increase in migration to the UK from those countries (Department for Work and Pensions 2012, p. 10). However, this reasoning does not hold in the case of Ireland which has also been heavily affected by the recession and is struggling with high unemployment rates (14.6% in 2011 (Central Statistics Office 2012a)). Yet, NINo allocations for Ireland have decreased – even though only slightly by 1.4% – for the same period (Department for Work and Pensions 2012, p. 10). Hence, the interrelation between the two areas is not as straightforward as it may seem (Department for Work and Pensions 2012, p. 10).
Immigration from Ireland
The decrease in NINo allocations to Irish nationals is especially surprising as one would expect the close ties between Ireland and the UK with regard to culture and language as well as their geographical proximity
However, it seems that recent migratory flows of Irish nationals have been influenced by trends originating in “the Celtic Tiger era, particularly the Irish version of the Gap Year in Australia” (Gilmartin 2012, p. 13)
The Gap Year denotes a year during which people take time off from work or after graduating from university for traveling, volunteering or working abroad. In Ireland, the Gap Year became very popular among the younger generations during the boom with Australia being the main destination country (Gilmartin 2012, p. 12). Young Irish migrants, the maximum age at time of application is 30 years (Department of Immigration and Citizenship 2012, p. 3), access Australia “through the Working Holiday Visa programme, which facilitates temporary migration” (Gilmartin 2012, p. 12). This is due to the fact that the Working Holiday Visa limits the stay in Australia to a maximum of one year with the option to apply for another year only if certain requirements have been fulfilled (Department of Immigration and Citizenship 2012, p. 4).
According to Australian statistics, the number of Irish citizens holding a Working Holiday Visa in Australia increased by 32.7% to a total of 19.441 between the 30/06/2011 and the 30/06/2012 (Department of Immigration and Citizenship 2012, p. 20). Hence, it seems that at least in the case of Ireland, overseas destinations maintain an important role and may even be seen as gaining importance.
Although immigration from crisis-hit euro zone countries has so far been moderate, it has been the topic of a heated debate in the UK. One area of specific contention is the introduction of immigration restrictions for EU citizens which would be a clear diversion from the fundamental principle of freedom of movement within the EU (Leppard and Hookham 2012).
Central Statistics Office (2012a), Seasonally Adjusted Standardised Unemployment Rates (SUR). Externer Link: http://www.cso.ie/en/statistics/labourmarket/principalstatistics/seasonallyadjustedstandardisedunemploymentratessur/ (accessed 1-7-2013)
Central Statistics Office (2012b), This is Ireland – Highlights from Census 2011, Part 1, March 2012. Externer Link: http://www.cso.ie/en/media/csoie/census/documents/census2011pdr/Census%202011%20Highlights%20Part%201%20web%2072dpi.pdf (accessed 12-13-2012)
Department for Work and Pensions (2012), ‘National Insurance Number Allocations to Adult Overseas Nationals Entering the UK – registrations to March 2012’, Statistical Bulletin, 30 August 2012. Externer Link: http://research.dwp.gov.uk/asd/asd1/niall/nino_allocations_aug12.pdf (accessed 12-10-2012)
Department for Work and Pensions (2012), Accessible Tabulation Tool. Externer Link: http://126.96.36.199/mgw/live/tabtool.html (accessed 1-17-2013)
Department of Immigration and Citizenship (2012), Working Holiday Maker visa program report, 30 June 2012. Externer Link: http://www.immi.gov.au/media/statistics/pdf/working-holiday-report-jun12.pdf (accessed 1-11-2013)
Eurostat (2013), Unemployment statistics. Externer Link: http://epp.eurostat.ec.europa.eu/statistics_explained/index.php/Unemployment_statistics (accessed 1-10-2013)
Gilmartin, M. (2012), ‘The Changing Landscape of Irish Migration, 2000-2012’, NIRSA Working Paper No. 69, October 2012. Externer Link: http://www.nuim.ie/nirsa/research/documents/WP69_The_changing_face_of_Irish_migration_2000_2012.pdf (accessed 1-7-2013)
Instituto Nacional de Estadística (2012), ‘Population and Housing Census 2011’, Press Release. Externer Link: http://www.ine.es/en/prensa/np756_en.pdf (accessed 1-13-2013)
Leppard, D./Hookham, M. (2012), ‘May: put controls on EU migrants’, The Sunday Times (London), 7 October 2012. Externer Link: http://www.thesundaytimes.co.uk/sto/news/uk_news/National/article1142432.ece (accessed 12-10-2012)
Office for National Statistics (2012), Population by Country of Birth and Nationality Report, August 2012, 30 August 2012. Externer Link: http://www.ons.gov.uk/ons/dcp171776_277619.pdf (accessed 12-11-2012)
UK Border Agency (date unknown), Worker Registration Scheme. Externer Link: http://www.ukba.homeoffice.gov.uk/eucitizens/workerregistrationscheme/ (accessed 1-16-2013)
This text is part of the policy brief on Interner Link: "Does the Crisis Make People Move?".