FEWER EU citizens are registering for national insurance numbers in Bradford than before the Brexit vote, the latest figures reveal.

The statistics, from the Department for Work and Pensions, show how many foreign nationals have successfully applied for NI numbers, which are required to work or claim benefits.

In the 12 months up to March this year 2,135 people from the EU registered for NI numbers.

In the year before June 2016, the month of the controversial referendum, 2,924 people registered, 789 more than in the latest period.

The data divides the European workers into three groups.

It identifies people from the EU15, which are countries that joined the bloc before 2004, like France, Spain and Germany.

The EU8 countries joined in the 2004 enlargement, and include nations such as Poland and the Czech Republic.

The EU2, Romania and Bulgaria, joined in 2007, but could not move to the UK to work until 2014.

The biggest drop in new workers registering post Brexit was by those from the EU8 countries. In the 12 months up to March, 1,080 EU8 citizens signed up for NI numbers, 447 fewer than before the Brexit vote. Of residents from the EU15, 154 fewer registered. And the number of Romanians and Bulgarians registering for NI numbers, reduced by 173 or 24%.

Dennis Kumar runs the Patson Local Bradford supermarkets, which specialises in selling Eastern European food and drink.

He believes his business is bucking the trend of fewer EU migrants finding work and says people apply for jobs at his stores every day.

"We probably employ 80 per cent of people from the EU, but this hasn’t affected us," he told the Telegraph & Argus.

“Initially we did see people go back to their home countries because they were unsure what was happening after Brexit, but now they know, they are flocking back.

“If they hear rumours about everyone having to leave then they take that seriously, but in terms of the number of people looking for work, we still get people looking for jobs on a daily basis.

“I was talking to one or two people recently who have gone back and they are now thinking about returning.

“Things are levelling out and when I was talking to one of our suppliers in an Eastern European country, he said they are finding it hard to recruit labourers and manual workers because they are all heading back to England again.

“I’m certain they are here to stay."

The DWP data does not explain why the numbers have reduced, but it could be due to post-Brexit uncertainty or other factors such as the improvement of the economies in residents' home countries. Poland, for example, currently has a record low unemployment rate.

The number of applicants from outside the EU has also decreased.

A total of 1,685 people from the rest of the world registered for NI numbers in the 12 months up to March, a drop of 60 on the period before Brexit. From outside of Europe, the region with the highest number of applications was South Asia, which includes India and Pakistan, with 1,025 registrations.

This, combined with a drop in the number of EU citizens applying, has contributed to a reduction in the overall number of foreign nationals applying for NI numbers in Bradford. In the 12 months up to March a total of 3,821 people gained an NI number, a decrease of 866 on the 12 months before the Brexit vote.

There has been concern that there will be a workforce gap after Brexit, particularly in catering, construction and agriculture.

The justice secretary David Gauke said prisoners could fill the roles that migrant workers had left behind.

The DWP said the figures should not be used to indicate immigration levels, as foreign nationals could have been in the country for some time before applying for an NI number.

According to the ONS' latest nationwide immigration statistics Romanians moved above Irish and Indians to become the second most common non-British nationality in the UK, after Poles.