Saturday, October 1, 2011

Brits migrating to Poland

Not mentioned below is a major reason to leave for Poland: Poland is still overwhelmingly the white Christian society that Britain used to be before multiculturalism hit it -- which bypasses all the difficulties of living with Africans -- such as their high rate of violent crime. And the fact that Poland is very Christian also helps with civility

A young Polish woman points at the screen in her office and smiles at me. ‘Look,’ she says warmly. ‘Here’s another one — they are coming in all the time.’

On the screen is a message from a man asking for advice on finding work. ‘A few years ago, I’d have received one or two a month. Now I get scores of messages like this. It is very good news — and they’re all welcome.’

More Poles coming to Britain in search of work and a new life thanks to the opening of European borders? Well, not exactly. In fact, the messages are from British men seeking work in Poland — reversing the trend of recent years.

As Agnieszka Libura has discovered in her office next to the Honorary British Consulate in Krakow, many middle-class Britons, fed up with the recession, austerity cuts and seemingly unbridled immigration at home are, paradoxically, becoming migrants themselves and heading to Poland for a better life.

Once there, they find the only economy in Europe not to have fallen into recession during the credit crunch, a business culture open to fresh ideas and inward investment, a society that places a premium on family values, a lower cost of living — and, in the case of thousands of British males, a female population they seem to find irresistible.

As the Mail reported yesterday, a new study suggests Poland’s quality of life is significantly better than Britain’s, primarily because of lower crime, violence and living costs. Not to mention that Poles have on average ten more days’ holiday a year — and nearly 200 more hours of sunshine.

‘British people come over here and they are amazed to see a largely untapped business market and a growing middle class,’ says Agnieszka, director of the British Polish Chamber of Commerce. ‘If you can find a niche here, you can get rich very quickly.’

Unskilled wages are too low to entice the labourers, supermarket shelf-stackers or coffee-shop baristas from Britain.

The growing British diaspora instead comprises middle-class professionals working for large multi-national companies, business people with an eye for a chance, men who come after falling in love with Polish women in Britain, and those who have simply fallen in love with Poland.

‘It’s about the quality of life for me,’ says Mark Burton, a 32-year-old IT worker from Nottingham who moved to Krakow last year. ‘I visited Poland several times on holiday, and each time I came I liked it more and more.

‘I could earn a lot more in England, but I’d never enjoy the lifestyle so much. Every day I walk to work through Krakow old town, past the Wawel Royal Castle, which is one of the most beautiful buildings in Europe, and have to pinch myself.

‘People are friendly and the pace of life is slower. The architecture is stunning, basics are cheaper and the markets are full of food that is locally grown.

‘You can probably earn one-third of what you do in Britain and still be comfortably off.’

No one knows for sure how many Brits are living in Poland because they don’t have to register, just as with any other EU country. However, everyone agrees the number is growing. ‘We’re definitely seeing more Brits,’ says Mark’s boss, John Naughton, 40, who has built up several businesses in Poland.

‘Let’s face it, our own economy is in trouble, while this one is pretty vibrant. The opportunities here are fantastic. The big cities in Poland are modern, but you can still come up with ideas for things that aren’t available here yet that most Poles don’t even know they’re missing. It’s a great place to do business.’

Walk through Krakow, Poland’s picturesque second city, and you begin to understand the attractions — clean streets, polite and friendly people, great food and low crime.

According to the latest figures from the European Institute for Crime Prevention and Control, there are 1,365 assaults a year per 100,000 people in England and Wales; the figure for Poland is just 76. Murder rates in each country are very low, with Poland’s slightly above that of England and Wales. But in every other category, Poland puts us to shame. Per 100,000 of the population, Poland has 5.2 rapes compared with 25.6 in England and Wales; robberies are 92 compared with 189; burglary 455 compared with 1,158; 184 drug-related crimes compared with 362.

‘Crime isn’t something we ever had to worry about,’ said Jonathan Merrett, former head of the British International School of Cracow. ‘I had no problem with allowing older children out of school at lunchtime, something I’d probably never have allowed in Britain. And if the sun was shining and one of my teachers asked if they could take a class in the park, I could say yes without having to write a health & safety risk assessment. ‘In Poland, common sense prevails. Also, teachers are allowed to teach, and it shows in the results.’

Following the English curriculum, with tweaks to account for local culture and history, the school’s pupils have a 100 per cent record in achieving at least five A to C grade GCSEs compared with an average of 15 per cent in Britain. Fees are £8,400 a year, which compare favourably with British private schools.

However, it isn’t only professional fulfilment that attracted Jonathan and his teacher wife, Jill, to Poland. ‘Family relationships are still very important,’ said Jill.

‘I had younger colleagues who lived with their parents out of choice, and you wouldn’t get that so much in Britain. The Church is important, too, and that’s reflected in the low crime and general pleasantness of the place.

‘It’s clean, too. Whenever I went home to England, I was struck by the litter and chewing gum on the floor. In Poland, every building, residential or commercial, has to hire someone to clear the snow, leaves or litter outside every day. ‘It’s a hangover from Communism, when they used to find jobs for people to do, but it’s carried on and makes for very clean communities.’

Tom Buck, 29, a computer programmer, is one of many Englishmen who fell in love with a Polish woman before falling for Poland itself. ‘I was sharing a flat in London with a Polish girl, and in 2008 one of her friends, Ania, came to visit and we got on well,’ he says. ‘A month later, she returned to visit me, then I went to see her and within months we were flying back and forth so often that we decided to choose whether we lived in Warsaw or London. I liked Warsaw, so I moved there in October 2009.

‘I thought it would be terrifying to meet her family, but they were wonderfully welcoming to me, and once I got the seal of approval they became my family, too. I was bowled over by them.’

So what is it, I dare to ask, that attracts so many British men to Polish women? ‘Well, Ania is intelligent and beautiful, but I think what is so endearing about Polish women is they don’t play games,’ says Tom. ‘It is a cultural thing to speak your mind and be honest. That is the way British men communicate with each other, so finding such directness in a woman, and not having to constantly guess what you have done wrong, is an attractive trait.’

Of course, not everything about Poland is perfect. Expats cite the weather, which oscillates from unbearably cold to seriously hot, the low wages in some sectors and the cost of electrical items as the main bugbears.

Londoner Michael McSperrin, 26, moved to Krakow in January 2009 after quitting a management post with Carphone Warehouse. ‘I’d spent some time taking stock and decided I wasn’t entirely happy and wanted to try something new,’ he says. ‘I’d been to Poland several times, and out of curiosity began looking on the internet for jobs.’ He took a post with a company that provides administration services for recruitment agencies all over the world.

‘I grew up in Ealing and I’d been very happy there for years,’ says Michael. ‘But increasingly I was bored. In London, you think you have a great social life, but it’s so difficult meeting up with friends because they’re all over the place. ‘Here, it’s smaller and there’s so much to do that you meet new people all the time.

‘Add to that museums, architecture, festivals and concerts within walking distance or on the great tram system, and you’ve got more than enough to keep you happy.’

So would Michael go back to Britain? ‘Well, I’d never say never,’ he says. ‘But from what I hear about what’s going on at home, you couldn’t pay me to go back. With your inflation I doubt you could afford to.....’


Now the EU orders Britain: Let migrants claim benefits as soon as they arrive in UK

Europe has given Britain two months to scrap policies preventing benefit tourists claiming billions of pounds in handouts. Last night the European Commission said it would take the Government to court unless it draws up plans to axe restrictions on claims by immigrants, saying they are against the law and must be scrapped.

Brussels bureaucrats acted after receiving a complaint that the rules infringed the human rights of EU citizens.

It is feared the change could open the door to tens of thousands of Eastern Europeans who are currently deterred from coming to Britain – costing taxpayers up to £2.5billion a year in extra welfare payments.

At present a ‘habitual residency’ test is used to establish whether EU migrants are eligible for benefits. To qualify for jobseekers’ allowance, employment support allowance, pension credit and income support, they must demonstrate they have either worked here previously or have a good opportunity to get a job.

But the European Commission said this ‘right to reside’ test indirectly discriminates against nationals from other EU states by enforcing a set of conditions that effectively tests their right to state handouts.

Yesterday members announced they were considering taking the UK to the EU’s Court of Justice if it does not scrap the test. And they gave the Government two months to inform them of the measures it takes to enforce the rules.

Officials in the Department for Work and Pensions warn it would cost anything from £620million a year to £2.46billion if they have to scrap the test – seriously hampering plans to rein in public spending.

Employment minister Chris Grayling said: ‘This is a very unwelcome development. ‘It’s obviously right that we support those who work and pay their taxes here, but it’s clearly completely unacceptable that we should open our doors to benefit tourism.

‘I’m really surprised the European Commission has chosen to go into battle on this very sensitive issue, when there are clearly far more pressing problems to solve in Europe.’

A source at the DWP added: ‘This could open the doors of the benefits system to anyone from the EU, even if they have no intention of working. ‘That would be bad enough if we were in good economic times, but we are not in good economic times.’ ‘We will fight this tooth and nail. This is a battle we will win.’

Nigel Farage, the leader of the UK Independence Party, said: ‘Once again we see the EC telling us how to run our country and people are becoming sick and tired of it. ‘The UK is perfectly within its rights to require EU nationals to fulfil certain conditions before taking advantage of our generous benefits system. ‘If the EC gets its way then there will be a far greater burden on the British taxpayer as more money will need to be found for the social security system.

‘The “right to reside” test should stay. It is not discrimination, but simply a system to ensure that benefits are paid only to those who are entitled to them.’

Stephen Booth, research director of think-tank Open Europe, said: ‘Freedom of movement within the EU has largely been positive for the UK but issues surrounding benefits and social security are understandably very sensitive.

‘For the freedom of movement within the EU to work, governments have to be able to assure their citizens that welfare systems won’t be abused. ‘At a time when people are concerned about the pressures of immigration, the Commission is playing a dangerous game by trying to overrule the UK on its “right to reside” test.’

The European Commission first set out its stall last year when it wrote: ‘EU law leaves it to member states to determine the details of their social security schemes and social assistance schemes, including the conditions on awarding benefits. ‘Having examined the “right to reside” test, it is not compatible with different legal provisions of EU law.’


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