A study by the University of Salford has estimated that around 200,000 Roma migrants are living in the UK – making it home to one of the largest Roma populations in Western Europe.
Thousands of Roma migrants have arrived in the UK since 2004 when a number of eastern European countries joined the European Union. The Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust-funded study surveyed local authorities across the UK to understand the size of this migrant group.
The study found that Roma in England are concentrated in the North West and London, with significant populations in Yorkshire and the Humber and the East and West Midlands. They live in predominantly urban, multi-ethnic areas. The numbers in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland are relatively small.
Roma tend to live as part of a national diaspora in private housing and high densities. They are frequently perceived as arriving with varied and complex needs due to poverty and entrenched discrimination. An absence of trust and lack of literacy skills in any language is common, and funding cuts mean that local authorities are finding it even more challenging to provide meaningful services.
Conversely, a number of authorities are aware of migrant Roma living in their areas but there is rarely any contact. This is because they tend to live in private rented housing and are not using local authority or statutory services.
The indigenous population of Roma (also known as Gypsies and Travellers) is estimated to be 200,000 – 300,000 people. Combined with the migrant Roma population, the figure is around 400,000 – 500,000.
Dr Phil Brown, Director of Salford Housing & Urban Studies Unit, said: “The migrant Roma population in the UK is significant. Our research sheds light on their settlement but more needs to be done to understand why they choose to migrate and settle in certain areas, and how local services and organisations can work with members of these communities better.”