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Increases in net migration make achievement of government target look unlikely

27 Feb 2014

New figures released today by the Office for National Statistics show that net migration increased by 58,000 in the year to September 2013,  to a figure of 212,000, with migration of EU nationals representing a key factor in the increase. The data makes it seem extremely unlikely that the government will come close to its “tens of thousands” net migration target by 2015, the Migration Observatory at the University of Oxford said today.

Immigration of EU nationals increased by 60,000 year-on-year, with a statistically significant increase among EU-15 nationals. Romanian and Bulgarian immigration also increased from 9,000 to 24,000 during this period – notably, prior to the ending of transitional restrictions on labour market access. Immigration from outside the EU fell by 25,000.

In the year to December 2013, new National Insurance numbers to non-UK nationals showed increases, notably from Southern Europe. Nationals from Italy, Portugal and Spain, along with Poland, showed the largest growth. The UK’s relatively positive economic performance and continuing high levels of unemployment in EU member states are likely to have contributed to the increase. Continued declines in emigration from the UK, which fell by (a statistically insignificant) 23,000 have also pushed the net migration figures up.

The 212,000 figure for the year to September is the highest level for a twelve-month period since the year to December 2011.

Dr Scott Blinder, director of the Migration Observatory at the University of Oxford said: “This is clearly challenging news for the government. The key changes in this report are to EU migration – an area over which immigration policy has less direct influence. This highlights the fact that the net migration target is not something that can be delivered purely through policy, but relies on other trends as well.”

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