Migration falls following Brexit vote

24 Aug 17

Net migration has fallen to 246,000 in the year to March, down 81,000 according to official figures, sparking recruitment and retention concerns for business and the public sector.

Today’s numbers from the Office for National Statistics show overall immigration stood at 588,000, down 50,000, and emigration 342,000, up 31,000, giving the UK its lowest net migration figure in three years.

Nicola White, head of international migration statistics at the ONS, said the quarterly figures indicate the EU referendum result may be influencing people’s decision to migrate into and out of the UK, particularly EU nationals from Poland, Lithuania, Czech Republic, Hungary, Slovakia, Slovenia, Estonia and Latvia.

She added: “The net migration change was driven by an increase in emigration, mainly for EU citizens and in particular EU8 citizens, and a decrease in immigration across all groups.

“International migration for work remains the most common reason for migration with people becoming increasingly more likely to move to the UK or overseas only with a definite job than to move looking for work.”

Liberal Democrat leader Vince Cable, called the ONS figures a sign of a “deeply worrying Brexodus” of workers leaving the UK.

He said: “Recent research shows that more than half of British businesses are struggling to recruit the skilled labour they need.

“We have already seen record numbers of EU workers leaving our NHS, and today we hear stark warnings from the food and drink industry that they face significant disruption and economic damage if European nationals continue to leave.”

But immigration minister, Brandon Lewis said: “It was good to see a third quarter running of net migration figures coming down”.

CIPFA today officially launched its Brexit Advisory Commission, which will look at the challenges and opportunities facing the public sector as the UK withdraws from the EU.

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