High euro hits Brits dream

30 September 2011

WORRIES about the high euro and property values have meant the number of Britons moving to France from the UK has fallen significantly.

Last year the numbers heading to France dropped to below 20,000 – a long way short of the story five years ago when more than twice that number of qualified professionals were resettling here.

UK immigration think-tank MigrationWatch said in its report on the changes: “There is something of a brain drain occurring in Britain whereby our most talented and skilled are leaving the UK in search of opportunities abroad.”

Most are now heading for Australia followed by Germany and then the US, with 27% of them having a health or education degree.

Spain has also been hit and MigrationWatch chairman Sir Andrew Green said: “The fall in the value of the pound against the euro can explain this decline in emigration to France and Spain; the pound lost 28% of its value against the euro between January 2007 and January 2009.

“For those on fixed incomes this changes the economics of a life of retirement abroad.”

Office of National Statistics figures show the peak for British emigration to France was in 2005-6 when 47,000 crossed the Channel. That followed several years where increasing numbers were heading for the “good life” with 20,000 in 2001-2; 30,000 in 2002-3; 32,000 in 2003-4 and 42,000 in 2004-5.

Since 2006 numbers have been falling as the financial situation deteriorated with the first signs in 2007 when French bank BNP Paribas told investors they could not withdraw money from two funds and then, in September, when there was a run on Northern Rock bank in the UK.

By the end of 2007 the number of emigrant Britons had fallen to 30,000 with 22,000 from 2007-8.

* In France, a little-publicised report from pollsters Ipsos revealed 72% of the population felt immigration had risen a lot over the past five years and 54% felt it had had a negative effect on the country. Just over half felt there were too many immigrants with 56% saying this strained social and health services.

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