Migration forecast to remain above 100,000, until 2020


18 March 2016
In its assessment of George Osborne's recent budget announcements, the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) has been unable to find a scenario whereby future immigration will fall to under 100,000 by 2020. The OBR has stated that although net migration is likely to fall over the next few years, the figure could still stand at around 270,000 by 2020.
In 2010 David Cameron pledged to cut net migration to under 100,000 by this date, therefore these recent figures will come as another blow to this promise. Recent data released by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) showed net migration stood at 323,000 for the year leading up to September 2015, which is 31,000 higher than 12 months ago. However, the ONS figures unveiled last month showed that net migration has fallen for first time since the end of 2013. Indeed, since 2010, migration from the European Union (EU) has generally risen before easing last year.
However, this still does not align with the Government's aim of reducing immigration to less than 100,000 by 2020. The recent ONS figures show that net immigration has now been running at an annual level of more than 300,000 for almost two years - three times the government’s pledged goal. The OBR stated: “Even under the low scenario, net inward migration does not quite drop into the ‘tens of thousands’ sought by the Government within the forecast period.”
The latest migration figures showed that net migration from the EU had decreased from 180,000 for the year ending in June 2015 to 172,000. This was still higher than the 158,000 in the 12 months leading up to September 2014. Migration figures show that last year, 21 per cent, or 130,000 migrants hailed from the 'EU15' group of countries. These include: Denmark, Austria, Belgium, France, Finland, Germany, Greece, Italy, Ireland, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Sweden, Portugal, and Spain. This represents a rise of 5 per cent from the previous year.
The figures also show a significant increase in the number of Romanian and Bulgarian migrants coming to Britain. Migrants from Romania and Bulgaria now account for more than 21 per cent, or a fifth of total EU immigration. However, the number of migrants from the 'EU8' group of countries: Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Slovakia and Slovenia fell by 9 per cent this year.
The ONS figures also show that an estimated 165,000 EU citizens travelled to Britain for work-related reasons. Of this number, 42 per cent came looking for work and 58 per cent had a definite job offer.
Home Secretary Theresa May responded to the recent ONR assessment by stating that the current and projected figures were still too high. However, she also said that the deal that Mr Cameron was currently forging with the EU would ensure that current abuses to the system would be confronted by reforms. May also explained that the government hopes to eliminate some of the perceived attractive factors of migration to the UK.


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