25 May 2012

UK immigration figures double Government’s target

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Recent UK immigration figures reveal that net migration remains more than double the Government's pledge to reduce migration to the 'tens of thousands' by the end of the current parliament.

UK immigration

UK immigration figures remain more than double the Government's target.

In the year to September 2011, UK immigration figures published by the Office for National Statistics show net migration, those arriving in Britain minus those emigrating, was 252,000, a drop of just 3,000 on the previous year.

The figure, which is also an increase on the 250,000 in the year to 2011, is a huge blow to Home Secretary Theresa May and Immigration Minister Damian Green who have made significant changes to immigration policy including salary thresholds on graduating international students and limits on the number of foreign workers permitted each year.

The Coalition Government made reducing net migration from current levels to the 'tens of thousands' by the next election a policy cornerstone upon taking parliament yet has been forced to restate this intention due to the latest statistics.

"There is evidence that the changes we are making to the rules are starting to have an impact," said the prime minister's official spokesperson. "It is still our intention to bring the levels of net migration back down to the tens of thousands. Clearly it is going to take some time."

Labour has accused the Government of failing badly on immigration; the shadow home secretary, Yvette Cooper, says the Government's policies are incapable of reaching the promised figures:

"David Cameron said 12 months ago 'no ifs, no buts, that's a promise we made to the British people' yet these figures show that promise is being broken and the net migration figure of 252,000 is barely changed in the last two years.

"Migration experts have said the Government does not have the policies to deliver on the target, so the prime minister is not being straight with the public. He should not make promises he can't keep on such an important policy area."

Mr Green however has remained defiant in the wake of the figures, claiming policies affecting the student UK visa have not been taken into account and promising to maintain updating immigration policy.

"Our tough new rules are now making a real difference with a record 62% drop in student visas in the first quarter of 2012, and overall falls in work visas, family numbers and people settling.

"As these policies start to bite we are seeing an end to the years when net migration was consistently on the rise. But the hangover from the old system of weak controls means it is still too high and we will continue our programme of reforms to bring net migration down from the hundreds of thousands to the tens of thousands."


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