Figures published today by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) reveal net migration rose to 176,000 (up from 153,000) in the year to December 2012. It seems probable that the drive by Home Secretary Theresa May to hit the target of reducing net migration below 100,000 by the time of the 2015 general elections is unachievable.
Rise in Net Migration: What the Figures Show
The latest figures show that net migration is well below the 215,000 net migration figure for the year to December 2011 but higher than the 153,000 for the 12 months to October 2012. The ONS found that the increase was driven by a drop in the number of migrants leaving Britain which fell from 351,000 to 321,000 in the year to December 2012.
The ONS are of the opinion that the increase in net migration was not due to the rise in the level of immigration to the UK. This is supported by figures showing that the number of immigrants arriving in the country dropped from 556,000 to 497,000.
UK Government Stalls on Bid to Cut Net Migration
The newly released net migration figures will come as a ‘blow’ to Theresa May who has promised to cut migration down to tens of thousands by the end of parliament but this seems highly unlikely, especially with more EU migrants arriving in the near future.
Immigration Minister Mark Harper has stated that the new Immigration Bill coming into force in autumn, would make it more difficult for people coming to the UK if they had no right to do so and would make it easier to remove people who were not entitled to stay in the country.
Mark Harper stated:
“We are committed to bringing net migration down from the hundreds of thousands to the tens of thousands. We are working across government to protect public services and ensure our welfare system is not open to abuse.”
UK Net Migration: Other Figures Released
In addition to figures mentioned above, the ONS have also reported the following figures:
- 97,000 immigrants from New Commonwealth countries (including Botswana, Kenya, Malawi, Bangladesh, India and Pakistan) came to the UK in the year ending December 2012 compared to 151,000 in the previous year. This drop may be due to fewer people are arriving to study in the UK; and
- 58,000 immigrants arrived from countries which joined the EU in 2004 (including Poland, the Czech Republic and Lithuania) down from 77,000 the previous year.