Next Stop UK: Romanians & Bulgarians Are Queueing up for Handout Britain
The official stance of the UK government is that the labor restrictions for Bulgarians and Romanians will be lifted from January 1, 2014. File photo by BGNES
From GRAEME CULLIFORD in Sofia
AN army of jobless Bulgarians and out-of-work Romanians are preparing to invade Britain, The Sun can reveal today.
From next year people from the two countries gain the right to live and work in the UK unrestricted.
But it's not just the work that is attracting them — it's the generous benefits system too.
In Sofia, Bulgaria's capital, Julia Atanasova and pal Yanita Minkova, both 24, told us they are eager to come here.
When we showed them our story from last week on the couple who spent their benefits on cigs, a luxury TV and a laptop computer, they confirmed their admiration for the UK's system.
Julia said: "I can't stand the thought of the wet weather in Britain but your benefits system is good.
"Everyone wants a good standard of living with luxuries like holidays. It is amazing people in the UK can afford so much without even having to work." Logistics student Julia added: "I don't want my children to grow up in Bulgaria.
"People don't have security here — one day you can have a job and the next it can be gone."
And, telling of her fear of the rife crime gangs in her country, she said: "You walk down the street and someone might kill you by accident because they wanted to kill someone else."
The day after our interview, a man was shot four times by a sniper on the street yards from our reporter's hotel.
Unemployed Bulgarian men Blagovest Tsenov and Dimitar Zlatarev, both 20, told us they will be among those buying one-way tickets when the borders open.
Blagovest said: “There is no work here for guys like us. When the restrictions are lifted, we’d love to move to the UK.”
Reading our story about the couple on benefits, they said: “You can’t buy all these things if you are unemployed in Bulgaria.
“A laptop is just a dream for many people here. When Bulgarians find out you can get so much for free in Britain they will all be rushing there.” In a nearby office, job agency boss Damian Ivanov said he is already sending scores of jobless men and women to the UK to work on farms — and he predicts that five times as many will leave when the borders are open.
“Britain is definitely the preferred destination for Bulgarian workers,” he told us. “The pay is best there, the standards higher, you can make more money for every month that you work.
Sharp suited Ivanov added: "When the restrictions are lifted, many more Bulgarians will head to the UK to find work, there is no doubt about it.
"I would say five times as many, maybe more. If unemployment rises again — and the reality is it will — who knows how many people will leave."
Ivanov's comments will make worrying reading for the Coalition Government, which continues to insist only small numbers will immigrate when the borders open in January 2014. But our investigations found word about the perks of British life is spreading.
She was forced to start selling hats and scarves on the pavement when her former boss cut her wages. The 52-year-old told The Sun: “It is amazing you can get laptops and big televisions without even having to work! Britain sounds a wonderful place.”
Bulgaria remains one of the poorest in the EU with the average worker earning just £336 a month.
Standing on the edge of a bustling market in the centre of Sofia, Todor Todorov, 54, also told how he is dreaming of a new life in the UK. He said: “I am a construction worker but I cannot find a job here. I do not get any money from the government — the only way I can survive is by standing here hoping someone might give me a little to help me out.
“It’s hard to believe even poor people in your country have so many nice things. If I had a chance I would get on the first bus tomorrow.”
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