Net migration to the UK reaches record high

The latest statistics from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) show that net migration to the UK for the year ending March 2015 reached an all-time record high of 330,000, beating the previous record of 320,000 in the year ending June 2005.

The ONS Migration Statistics Quarterly Report, August 2015 is available here.

The key points of the report are:

• Net long-term international migration = +330,000 (up 94,000 from YE March 2014), in the year ending (YE) March 2015.

• Immigration = 636,000 (up 84,000), in the year ending (YE) March 2015.

• Emigration = 307,000 (down 9,000), in the year ending (YE) March 2015.

• The net migration figure was a statistically significant increase from 236,000 in YE March 2014 and is the highest net migration on record.

• Net migration of EU citizens showed a statistically significant increase to 183,000 (up 53,000 from YE March 2014). The increase in non-EU net migration to 196,000 (up 39,000) was also statistically significant and is a result of an increase in immigration (not statistically significant) and a decrease in emigration (statistically significant).

• The increase in long-term international immigration included a statistically significant increase for EU citizens to 269,000 (up 56,000), the highest recorded level for this group; and an increase for non-EU nationals to 284,000 (up 23,000) (not statistically significant).

• 53,000 Romanian and Bulgarian (EU2) citizens immigrated to the UK in YE March 2015, a statistically significant increase and almost double the 28,000 in the previous 12 months.

• 290,000 people immigrated for work in YE March 2015, a statistically significant increase of 65,000 from 225,000 in YE March 2014 continuing the upward trend.

• There were statistically significant increases of immigration for work for both EU citizens (from 134,000 to 162,000 in YE March 2015) and non-EU citizens (from 48,000 to 64,000). The increase for British citizens was not statistically significant. Of the 53,000 EU2 citizens immigrating to the UK, 42,000 were coming for work, a statistically significant increase of 20,000.

• 61% of EU citizens immigrating for work had a definite job to go to, whereas 39% were intending to look for a job rather than taking up an offer of employment.

• Latest employment statistics show estimated employment of EU nationals (excluding British) living in the UK was 250,000 higher in April to June 2015 compared with the same quarter last year and non-EU nationals in employment increased by 7,000. Over the same period, British nationals in employment also increased (by 84,000), therefore three-quarters of the growth in employment over the last year was accounted for by foreign nationals. (These growth figures represent the net change in the number of people in employment, not the proportion of new jobs that have been filled by non-UK workers.)

• In YE June 2015, work-related visas granted (main applicants) rose by 8,862 (or 8%) to 121,964, including a 5,177 (11%) increase for skilled work (Tier 2) visas.

• Long-term immigration for study increased from 176,000 to 188,000 in YE March 2015 (not statistically significant). Over the same period, visa applications to study at a UK university (main applicants) rose to 166,481.

• There were 25,771 asylum applications (main applicants) in YE June 2015, an increase of 10% compared with the previous 12 months (23,515). The number of applications remains low relative to the peak number of applications in 2002 (84,132).

• The largest number of applications for asylum came from nationals of Eritrea (3,568), followed by Pakistan (2,302) and Syria (2,204). A total of 11,600 people were granted asylum or an alternative form of protection.

Immigration Minister James Brokenshire said the net migration figures were “deeply disappointing.”

BBC News quoted him as saying: “While these figures underline the challenges we need to meet to reduce net migration, they should also act as a further wake-up call for the EU. Current flows of people across Europe are on a scale we haven’t seen since the end of World War Two. This is not sustainable and risks the future economic development of other EU member states.”

BBC News also reported today that the Institute of Directors warned jointly with the think tank British Future that radical policies to prevent migrants coming to the UK will damage the economy.

Simon Walker, director general of the Institute of Directors, was quoted by BBC News as saying: “Scrabbling around to find measures to hit a bizarre and unachievable migration target is no way to give British businesses the stable environment they need. Combined with ministers’ increasingly strong rhetoric on immigration, the UK’s reputation as an open, competitive economy is under threat.”