Coalition’s UK immigration promises not being met

A recent study by independent think tank the Institute for Public Policy Research predicted that the net number of non-EU migrants coming to the UK in 2012 would fall by as many as 40,000 to around 180,000.

Despite the fall, the number of immigrants still far exceed the Coalition Government's original goal of reducing UK immigration to "tens of thousands"; a promise the Conservative Party pledged in their election manifesto with the author of the IPPR report, Matt Cavanagh stating "we don't think that's going to be enough for the Government to hit its target of reducing net immigration to tens of thousands by the end of the parliament".

More disharmony within the coalition

The pre-election pledge has always been a contentious subject within the Coalition Government, with the Liberal Democrats claiming that they 'did not sign up to this' and Business Secretary Vince Cable opining that the Prime Minister would have been better served had he not stated a specific number.

UK immigration statistics

Source: Institute for Public Policy Research, 2012.

Economic effects 

The IPPR goes further and claims that while the fall is still less than hoped for by the Conservatives, even this decrease could harm the UK's economic recovery. With net immigration decreased, this can result in fewer skilled workers travelling to the UK as well as the UK's larger companies struggling with inter company transfers while a decrease in the amount of overseas students could lower income.

The Government's refute - goals can still be reached

The Government argues these claims and insists its goals could still be reached within the lifetime of the current Parliament. Immigration Minister Damian Green claimed the process was akin to "turning round an oil tanker" and that even on the IPPR's own projections, who are "no friend of this Government", the Government's policy will have knocked 70,000 net migrants off "what was a rapidly rising total" over the first two years of the current Parliament.

Mr Green remained optimistic that net migration could be reduced to the tens of thousands by the end of the current Parliament when measures currently in place are combined with reforms which are shortly to be announced.

Further changes unlikely to make an effect

The reforms concern the family immigration and settlement routes, although analysts are sceptical as to whether these will affect the projected rates as they are expected to be held up by legal challenges.

The IPPR concluded that "While policy changes will start to achieve significant reductions in immigration from outside the EU, this will not be enough to put the Government on track to hit its target."

While the IPPR, dubbed "New Labour's favourite think tank" may have their doubts, vice chairman of the pressure group MigrationWatch Alp Mehmet claimed "the Government is on course but has a very long way to go".

- Dominic Ladden-Powell is Online Editor for the UK Visa Bureau