Minor fall in net migration recorded last year
By Vivienne Russell | 30 August 2012
Net migration to the UK fell slightly last year, but not significantly so, the Office for National Statistics said today.
According to figures in the ONS’s Migration statistics quarterly report, 566,000 people came into the UK for at least 12 months in the year to December 2011 and 350,000 left. The net figure of 216,000 was lower than the 252,000 estimated for December 2010 but this ‘not a statistically significant difference’, the ONS said.
Study remains the most common reason for migrating to the UK, with an estimated 232,000 arriving as students in 2011.
Citizens from non-European Union countries accounted for more than half of migrants last year – an estimated 314,000 or 55% of the total.
Sarah Mulley, associate director at the Institute for Public Policy Research, said the figures illustrated the ‘folly’ of the government’s target to reduce net migration to less than 100,000 a year.
‘The statistics show that the government remains a long way from its goal,’ she said.
‘If the target is missed, public confidence in the immigration system will be further undermined, making the politics of migration in the UK even more ugly than it is already.
‘The more immediate problem though, is that the government is making progress towards its target only at significant economic cost: reducing the numbers of skilled migrants who come to the UK to work hard, pay taxes, help businesses grow, and staff our public services, as well as fee-paying students who support our colleges and universities and provide jobs for thousands.’