27 May 2011

Net UK immigration reaches five year high

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Latest figures released by the Office for National Statistics show that immigration to Britain has risen by over 9% over the twelve months to September 2010, with statisticians suggesting a new influx from European Union countries is the most likely explanation. The figure has inflated net migration to Britain to its highest figure in five years.

UK immigration

UK immigration has risen by over 9% over the twelve months to September 2010.

Of those arriving in the UK, immigration for work has remained steady but UK immigration for the purposes of formal study had risen by nearly a third. In addition, there has been a sharp decrease in the numbers of people emigrating from the UK, which was down by 50,000 on the previous year, and down 27% on the peak in emigration in the twelve months to December 2008, when emigration figures his 409,000 with the majority leaving to live in Spain or, having obtained an Australian visa, to live in Australia, according to figures based on the International Passenger Survey.

The rise in migration to the UK is a blow to the coalition government’s promise to reduce migration numbers to “tens of thousands” by the next general election, which was widely criticised as unachievable due to the freedom citizens of the European Union have to migrate within member countries.

Discussing the latest figures, associate director of the Institute for Public Policy Research, Matt Cavanagh, said the figures demonstrate that the Government’s target “makes little sense, and can’t be achieved without damaging Britain’s economy. When they set the target in opposition, the Conservatives clearly hadn't planned for emigration continuing to fall," he said. "Today's figures show that emigration of British nationals is down by more than 25% since 2008. This means the government will have to take even more drastic measures to try to meet their chosen target."

Immigration minister Damian Green insisted that the figures cover a period prior to the introduction of the government’s cap on skilled workers and overseas student numbers, however opposition parties are skeptical about the target to reduce immigration numbers, with Gerry Sutcliffe, Labour’s immigration spokesman, saying “Since the business secretary [Vince Cable] publicly disagreed with the prime minister that the target was an agreed policy and the prime minister insisted there was 'no ifs, no buts', the government has gone very quiet on what was a flagship Conservative promise”.


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