26 February 2009

Stats show affect of recession on UK immigration

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Statistics released by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) show that the number of residents in Britain who were born overseas has risen to 6.5 million people, showing an increase of 290,000.

Further, an extra 300,000 foreign nationals were living in Britain in the year to June 2008, when compared with the previous year.

Indian-born nationals comprised the largest group of foreign nationals, making up 619,000 residents in the UK, while the number of Polish-born came in second with 461,000.  However, results did show that the number of UK work permit applications from Eastern European countries were down by 47 per cent, falling from 53,000 in the September quarter of 2007 to 29,000 in the same quarter 2008. 

The results also show that the number of short-term migrants who move to the UK has dropped significantly, indicating a 13 per cent drop from 2006 to 2007.

Although Phil Woolas says the results show that the new, tougher, points-based system for UK immigration is working to reduce numbers during the recession, Liberal Democrat Home Affairs spokesperson, Chris Huhne, said it was more likely that migrants have been deterred by the economic situation rather than the Government's stance of "British jobs for British workers".

"The sharp decline in economic migrants from eastern Europe is a clear demonstration of how unappealing the recession has made the UK to foreign workers. In their desperation to look tough on immigration and court headlines, many politicians and some sections of the media forget what an outstanding contribution immigration has made to our national life. The national dish is chicken tikka masala, half of London's nurses are immigrants and both of the last two England cricket captains were born in South Africa," Huhne said. 

Tim Finch, head of migration at the Institute of Public Policy Research, said the numbers of migrants who move to the UK would continue to drop while the recession hits the UK, and while the Government introduces its tough new system for immigration. 

The UK Visa Bureau is an independent consulting company specialising in UK visa and immigration services.

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