Little progress towards immigration target at significant cost

Published on Thursday, 30 August 2012 10:36
Posted by Vicki Mitchem

New statistics, released today by the Office for National Statistics, show that immigration to the UK was 566,000 in 2011 and emigration of 350,000, meaning that net migration (the difference between immigration and emigration) was 216,000.

Reacting to the new figures, Sarah Mulley, Associate Director at IPPR, said:

"Migration statistics published today demonstrate again, as they do every quarter, the folly of the Government's target to reduce net migration to less than 100,000 a year. The figures do suggest a small decline in net migration to the UK, down from 252,000 in 2010, though the fall is not statistically significant. The combination of recession and immigration policy changes may be starting to have an impact but more than a third of the fall is due to a rise in emigration.

"The statistics show that the Government remains a long way from its goal. More up-to-date visa data also released today suggests that further declines in immigration are on their way – student visas issued in the year to June 2012 were down 21 per cent compared to the previous twelve months, and the next quarter's data will likely show further falls. But even reductions on this scale seem unlikely to be enough to get net migration under 100,000, not least because student migration is mostly short-term, which means that reduced immigration now leads to reduced emigration later, drastically reducing the impact on net migration after the first year or two.

"If the target is missed, public confidence in the immigration system will be further undermined, making the politics of migration in the UK even more ugly than it is already.

"The more immediate problem though, is that the Government is making progress towards its target only at significant economic cost: reducing the numbers of skilled migrants who come to the UK to work hard, pay taxes, help businesses grow, and staff our public services, as well as fee-paying students who support our colleges and universities and provide jobs for thousands."

Source: IPPR

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