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Figures show a decrease in migration to the UK

27 February 2016

A recent set of figures produced by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) indicate that there has been a small fall in the number of EU migrants accessing the UK for employment. This follows a successive seven-year peak.

The figures show that net migration to Britain dipped to 323,000 in September 2015 - down from 336,000 recorded in June 2015. This figure included 172,000 migrants from Europe and 191,000 from outside of Europe. However, Home Secretary Theresa May has noted that: "Net migration in the UK still remains too high. Immigration at this level puts pressure on public services, on housing, on infrastructure… it can hold down wages and push British workers out of jobs."

David Cameron had made a promise to reduce net migration overall by 100,000 by the 2020 general election. Therefore, the recent ONS figure remains more than three times above this initial pledge. When asked about the ONS figures, Cameron acknowledged that that this fell far short of his pledge and said that he would take further action to implement a reduction in the numbers of migrants to the UK.

The number of EU nationals that came to Britain for employment in the 12 months leading up to last September stood at 165,000. This was a decrease of 15,000 from the projected 180,000. The figures demonstrate that 59% of all migrants that enter Britain to work have a fixed offer of employment. The ONS figures have also been affected by government restrictions on international students - down from 190,000 to 174,000 over the past year.

For the fifth successive year, there has been an increase in the number of asylum applications in Britain - rising by 20% over the past year to 38,878. However, this does need to be compared with the peak of 103,081, which took place in 2002. Nationals from Eritrea (3,729), Iran (3,248), Sudan (2,918) and Syria (2,609) submitted the largest number of applications. The ONS figures also show that Bulgarians and Romanians accounted for the most significant increase, with numbers up from 15,000 to 55,000.

In 2015, Britain experienced the ninth highest number of asylum applications in Europe. This figure was 38,878 in total, compared with 163,000 in Sweden, 163,000 in Hungary and 431,000 in Germany. Marley Morris of the Institute of Public Policy Research said: "It is crucial for this referendum that both sides are honest about EU migration. It is doubtful that the ‘emergency brake’ will significantly reduce EU migration, which is likely to continue to be high if the UK remains in the EU."

The Institute of Directors released a statement on the net migration target, saying that: "These figures show, yet again, why a net migration target makes absolutely no sense. The fact that 94% of the year-on-year increase in net migration is accounted for not by an increase in people coming here, but by a fall in the numbers leaving, shows the futility of trying to measure ‘net’ migration."




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