Romanians living in Britain send home nearly £500,000 every day, official figures revealed last night.
A total of £41million left the UK for the Eastern European country over a three-month period, said the Romanian Central Bank.
Last year alone, the Romanian economy was boosted by £2.5billion sent from abroad, it added.
The figures for the country’s UK-based nationals for January to March last year include cash transferred between banks or moved by money transfer.
If the level was maintained throughout 2010, it would mean more than £160million was sent to Romania from the UK over a year.
That would mean a rise of nearly 50 per cent on the 2009 total of £108million. But the figures do not include informal transfers and unofficial movements of money, including cash moved between friends and relatives.
This means the true total could be up to 30 per cent higher. An estimated two million Romanians work abroad, including 60,000 thought to live in the UK. Most live in North London and the South East of England. A further 25,000 each year are given work permits to enter Britain.
Most get temporary permission and take low-paid fruit-picking jobs on a seasonal agriculture worker scheme before returning home.
Restrictions put in place when Romania entered the EU in 2007 mean they cannot move freely around Europe looking for work. But these restrictions end in 2013, raising fears of a new wave of migrant workers.
Average incomes in Romania are 28 per cent of those in Western Europe and a fifth of the working age population lives abroad.
Economists estimate that it could take 20 years before Romanians reach the living standards of countries like the UK.
Official figures show some £90billion has been sent back to Romania over the last decade from expatriates. The average Romanian worker is thought to save around £100,000 before returning home.
A study by a Romanian jobs website found the UK was the most popular destination for workers. A third of the posts it offers are UK-based.
However, annual totals sent from the UK to Romania have plunged since 2007 when the figure was £312million.
Last year, the EU blocked Romania and Bulgaria from joining the EU’s passport-free travel zone because of fears of an influx of organised criminals. Romania has also faced major problems as a centre for drugs and people trafficking.
The country’s president, Traian Basescu, has invited criticism for thanking Romanians living abroad for claiming benefits.
‘Social protection makes it more comfortable to be unemployed than do manual jobs,’ he said.