26 May 2011

Net migration to the UK rises, as numbers leaving UK fall

A 20 per cent fall in the number of people moving out of the UK has undermined the government’s pledge to reduce net migration.


The Government’s pledge to cut net migration – the difference between the number of people leaving the UK for more than 12 months and the number moving in the other direction – looks to be increasingly hard to meet as the number of people choosing to stay here in the UK rises.

Quarterly figures from the Office of National Statistics show that in the year before last September, 243,000 more people came to live in Britain than left to live elsewhere, contribuiting heavily to the leap in net migration. However the total number of immigrants also rose by 50,000.

Commenting on the figures, associate director of the Institute for Public Policy Research Matt Cavanagh said “Today’s figures show that emigration of British nationals is down by more than 25 per cent since 2008. This means the Government will have to take even more drastic measures to try to meet their chosen target.”

The government announced it’s plan to cap migrant workers in a bid to reduce net migration last year.

The pledge was an election promise from the Conservative Party but caused tension in the coalition. The Liberal Democrat Business Secretary Vince Cable opposed the move on the grounds that it would prove ‘very damaging’ and was backed by business groups.

There has also been a rise in the number of people moving to the UK from Poland and other recent members of the European Union – what are known as the A8 countries. Immigration rose for that group from 45,000 to 72,000 and fewer people left. Numbers moving back home fell from 57,000 to 29,000.

One of the areas to see an increase in arrivals was students. While the number of people coming to the UK for work reasons stayed fairly constant, numbers coming to study rose by 30 per cent on the previous year.