Duncan Lewis


Asylum, Detention/ Fast Track

Managed Migration, Public Law

Net migration levels still not under control causing an embarrassment to the Home Office

Date: (25 May 2012)    |    

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The promises of Conservative to reduce the net migration below 100,000 by the time of the next election seems to be a far cry with the new figures published on Thursday showing annual net migration at a record high of more than 2,50,000 a year.
The Office for National Statistics (ONS) said the politically sensitive figure for net migration, the number of people coming to stay in the UK for longer than 12 months minus the number going to live abroad for more than 12 months, in the year to September 2011 was 252,000.
This is only 3,000 below the 255,000 recorded in the previous year to September 2010 and is a rise of 2,000 from the previous quarter's figure of 250,000 in the year to June 2011.
The figures were a blow to Home Office ministers, who despite having curbed non-European workers, including an annual cap on skilled migrants and a clampdown on overseas students have yet to see the net migration figures moving down to their desired levels..
Downing Street said the government remained committed to getting net migration down to "tens of thousands".
There was evidence that the changes made to the rules were showing results. It added that it would take some time but the net migration would be brought down to the targeted levels the prime minister's official spokesman said.
New moves to curb the numbers coming to join close family members and spouses by as much as two-thirds are also expected to be detailed shortly.
The ONS said that long-term immigration to the UK remained steady at 589,000 since 2004. An estimated 252,000 people left Britain to the join the 5 million British citizens already living abroad. About 190,000 people left the UK to work abroad.
The immigration minister, Damian Green, said the figures show signs of progress the tough new rules were now making a real difference with a record 62% drop in student visas in the first quarter of 2012, and overall falls in work visas, family numbers and people settling.
"As these policies start to bite we are seeing an end to the years when net migration was consistently on the rise. But the hangover from the old system of weak controls means it is still too high and we will continue our programme of reforms to bring net migration down from the hundreds of thousands to the tens of thousands."
However, the Migration Watch UK chairman, Sir Andrew Green, who campaigns for zero net migration, said "tough measures" were needed but the 15 years of mismanagement could not be repaired in 15 months, still it was cause for worry as net migration was running at a quarter of a million a year. But the legacy left by Labour was not showing any sign of reduction from the huge numbers that developed under it.