Latin Americans in Britain, a report written by Cathy McIlwaine and Diego Bunge

June 28, 2017

This report, published in 2016, is an important document to understand the Latin American Community in Britain.

The complete report can be read by accessing the following link:


Written by Cathy McIlwaine and Diego Bunge, from Queen Mary University of London, in partnership with the Latin American Women’s Rights Service (LAWRS)

Key Findings, as presented in the report

1. Just under 250,000 Latin Americans live in the UK, of which around 145,000 are in London. Brazilians are the largest national group (over a third of Latin Americans) followed by Colombians (20%). The next largest groups are from Ecuador, Argentina, Venezuela and Mexico.

2. Latin Americans are a significant part of London’s population, representing the eighth largest non-UK born population in the capital. The population is London’s second fastest growing migrant population from outside the EU. Two-thirds have arrived since 2000.

3. The Latin American community is well-educated with around half having gained a university education, compared to a third for London as a whole. However, 20% struggle speaking English. This rises to half of Latin American migrants who are more recent arrivals from mainland Europe.

4. A quarter work in low-paid elementary jobs (for example, as cleaners, kitchen assistants, porters, waiting staff and security guards) and a further 20% in other low- paid sectors such as caring, sales and processing.

5. Half of Latin Americans live in private rental housing, double the average for London.

6. Onward migration of Latin Americans from mainland Europe to the UK has increased over recent years. 80% have arrived from Spain and over half since 2011. Nine
out of ten have the right to live and work in the UK permanently, having either a British or EU passport. These onward Latin American migrants (OLAs) are more disadvantaged than Latin Americans who are more established in London.

7. OLAs have experienced significant downward occupational mobility. Two-thirds worked in cleaning when they first arrived in London (reducing to 50% after a period of settlement). However, only around 2% worked in cleaning in Latin America and only around 1 in 10 did so in their previous European country.

8. Incomes of OLAs are low. Three-quarters earn less than the London Living Wage, much higher than the London average of 20%.

9. Nearly half of OLAs have experienced problems at work. This included around 1 in 5 not being paid for work carried out and nearly 1 in 10 experiencing verbal abuse.

10. Access to health services remains low. Although 90% of OLAs have used the NHS for themselves or their family, around 1 in 6 are not registered with a GP and nearly 7 in 10 have not used a dentist.


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