Poll reveals public wildly overestimate numbers of refugees in UK: our response - Refugee Council
January 9, 2012

Poll reveals public wildly overestimate numbers of refugees in UK: our response

The results of an opinion poll published today show that four out of ten people believe that more than 10% of the population are refugees. The report, Hopes and Fears, published by new think tank British Future, also shows that one in 20 of us believe most people in Britain today are refugees, when the true number is under 1%.

In response, Donna Covey, Chief Executive of the Refugee Council said:

“This poll gives a useful insight into the public’s attitudes towards immigration. It’s alarming, however, to see yet another poll that shows people wildly overestimate the number of asylum seekers in the UK, highlighting public confusion between refugees who come to the UK seeking protection, and other groups such as economic migrants.

“Asylum seekers are people who have fled war or persecution and who come to the UK seeking safety, not work. They make up just a fraction of the whole immigrant population. It is time that politicians and the media joined us in helping people understand why the UK should be proud to protect refugees.”

In April 2011, the Refugee Council published an opinion poll that showed that there is significant misunderstanding around who a refugee is, with many confusing them with economic migrants from Poland and Eastern Europe.

Three quarters of Britons also wildly overestimated the small number of refugees granted asylum in the UK. In 2009, 4,175 individuals were granted refugee status, yet 44% of Britons believed it was 100,000 or more.