Long-term net migration in UK down from previous year

Written by Martin Banks on 25 August 2016 in News

Long term net migration in the UK was at 327,000 in the year ending March 2016, down slightly from the previous data in December, according to new data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

UK and EU flags | Photo credit: Press Association

It shows that in the year to March 2016, EU migrants totalled 268,000 (180,000 net migration) compared to 282,000 from non-EU states (190,000 net migration). 

Immigration from Romania and Bulgaria reached a record high of 69,000, said the UK's ONS.

Immigration was arguably the number one issue in the recent referendum in the UK which will see Britain exit the EU once article 50 has been triggered.


UK Prime Minister Theresa May is reportedly currently considering tougher rules on low skilled migrants from outside the EU and on international students, as she seeks to reduce migration ahead of the Brexit negotiations.

As the new data was published on Thursday, David Metcalf, the head of the UK Migration Advisory Committee, laid out the findings of a new report, saying that low skilled migrants have had "a small negative impact on wages of low-paid workers [but] a neutral impact on UK-born employment rates, fiscal contribution, GDP per head and productivity."

Metcalf suggested the number of workers and the time they are allowed to stay in the UK could be controlled using work permits.

He described such a system as "straightforward", citing the previous seasonal agricultural workers scheme which he said worked "terrifically" and could be copied for other sectors which rely on "a lot of unskilled European labour."

Elsewhere, a new survey by British Future, conducted by ICM, found that 62 per cent of people want to see fewer unskilled migrants coming to the UK. 

This compares to only 12 per cent who want to see a reduction in high skilled workers coming to the UK – 46 per cent would like to see more of it. 

Only 37 per cent of people believe the government will be able to meet the target of getting net migration down to tens of thousands in the next five years.

At the same time, a separate report from the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) calls on the UK government to offer free British citizenship to all NHS workers, all European children educated in the UK and waive the citizenship fee for all those who have been living in the UK for more than five years.

Meanwhile, German Chancellor Angela Merkel has called for the EU to sign Turkey-style "one in, one out" agreements with north African countries in an effort to prevent a growing summer migration crisis. 

She told regional daily Neue Passauer Zeitung, "We must agree on similar deals with other countries, such as in north Africa, in order to get better control over the Mediterranean sea refugee routes…Such agreements are also in the interest of the refugees themselves." 

The German Chancellor said the EU-Turkey deal is still "correct" and that the EU "should work to ensure that it lasts."

There are also reports that the European Commission plans to introduce a "European ESTA", modelled on a US scheme requiring international travellers who do not need a visa to apply online before entering the territory. A draft proposal is expected to put forward in November.


About the author

Martin Banks is a senior reporter for the Parliament Magazine

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