28 August 2009

Numbers emigrating to UK falls, population rises

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The UK population grew at a faster-than-average pace last year, despite a reduction in the number of immigrants arriving, thanks to the highest birth rate since 1973.

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Numbers emigrating to the UK have fallen, and experts belive this could be related to the recession and the introduction of the new points-based-system for UK visas and UK work permits.

The population rose 0.7 percent to 61.4 million in the middle of 2008, more than the 0.5 per cent annual average since 2001, the Office for National Statistics said.

Net migration fell to 118,000 in 2008, from 209,000 in 2007, the ONS figures showed.

The UK Government implemented the biggest clampdown on immigration since World War II after record numbers of immigrants from Eastern Europe arrived in the country after the expansion of the European Union in 2004. Arrivals from the eight accession countries dropped 28 percent, and departures of those nationals more than doubled.

Immigration Minister Phil Woolas said in a statement in London that Britain's borders are stronger than ever before and that immigration was under control.

Woolas has introduced an Australian-style points system for granting UK visas and raised restrictions on UK work permits and marriages to curb immigration from outside the EU.

With the recession driving hundreds of thousands of immigrants to leave, the figures mark the first time a decade that the natural rate of population growth, including births and deaths, outstripped the impact of immigration.

The statistics office wasn’t able to say how much of the drop in immigration  was due to the recession.

A steady stream of migrant workers coming to Britain in recent years helped keep wage costs low and contributed to the robust growth and low inflation enjoyed before the onset of the financial crisis two years ago. But a drop in the supply of cheap labour could limit the economy's ability to grow without generating too much inflation, financial experts say.

 The UK Visa Bureau is an independent consulting company specialising in UK immigration and UK work permit applications.

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