Don’t promise what you can’t deliver on immigration
Today’s ONS figures are a reminder of the risks of politicians promising what they can’t deliver, particularly on an issue as emotive as immigration.
Before the election, Conservatives and Liberal Democrats said immigration was out of control; afterwards, they said they would cut it dramatically. Neither was true.
Today’s figures reinforce how stable immigration has been in recent years: non-British immigration is estimated at 455,000 in 2010, compared to 437,000 in 2009 – and broadly stable since 2006:
Long term immigration, emigration, and net migration of non-British nationals
Source: IPS, ONS Migration statistics quarterly report, August 25 2011
The Government’s chosen target is not non-British immigration, but ‘net inward migration’: total (British and non-British) immigration, less total (British and non-British) emigration. As the above graph shows, non-British emigration is falling, and while British emigration has risen slightly over the last year, overall emigration remains down – with the result that the Government’s target of reducing net migration below 100,000 has moved further from their grasp since the election:
Long term immigration, emigration, and net migration of all nationals
Source: LTIM, ONS Migration statistics quarterly report, August 25 2011
Today’s figures suggest the interim immigration ‘cap’ on working migrants from outside the EU had negligible effect in 2010. The Government has made further changes since relating to non-EU migrants, including closing Tier 1 (highly skilled) to all but the wealthiest migrants in December 2010;a number of changes to Tier 4 (students) in March 2011; and apermanent ‘cap’ on ‘Tier 2’(skilled) workers in April.
The latest quarterly figures to June 2011, published by the Home Office today, should show these changes starting to have an effect, and indeed there is a slight fall in people coming from outside the EU for work (down 2.7% compared to the year ending April 2011), almost allin Tier 1 rather than Tier 2.This fall is offset, however, by a rise in those coming from outside the EU to study (up 3.5% compared to year ending April 2011).
More significantly, any reduction in numbers coming from outside the EU is likely to be offset by the continuing rise in those coming from inside the EU, particularly from Eastern Europe – a category of immigration which the Government cannot control.
Today’s figures show that immigration from Eastern Europe rose from 52,000 to 71,000in 2010 – and emigration back to Eastern Europe fell from 47,000 to 31,000, adding further to overall net migration.
In terms of the number of Eastern Europeans in work – as opposed to new arrivals –recent Labour Force Survey figures confirm that, after being stable between 2008 and the first quarter of 2010, numbers have been rising steadily since the election:Tagged in: emigration, home office, immigration
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