UKIP Leader Nigel Farage has questioned the accuracy of the latest immigration statistics.
The latest figures released by Office for National Statistics (ONS) show that the two largest categories of immigration to the UK were EU citizens coming for work (30%) and non-EU citizens coming to study (21%).
The estimate of immigration for EU citizens was 257,000. A total of 39,000 Romanians and 170 Bulgarians came to the UK following the lifting of restrictions on “EU2” nations.
Mr Farage wondered why the ONS migration figures indicated that 323,000 migrants had come to the UK from the end of 2014, yet in the same period there were 650,000 National Insurance number registrations.
“That is treble the official Migration figures. They are pulling the wool over our eyes,” Mr Farage said.
He accused the ONS of using the International Passenger Survey to derive their figures, adding that the simple grant of National Insurance numbers (NiNos) would be the more accurate measure.
Mr Farage wondered why 650,000 National Insurance Numbers were given to foreign nationals yet only 260,000 EU nationals arrived.
“NiNos are a simple and clear reflection of the real numbers of people in this country, as without them you can neither legally work, nor claim benefits. They do miss out on the large numbers of illegal migrants in the country, but there are no real attempts by the Government to work out how many illegal migrants are here,” Mr Farage said.
Explaining the divergence, a spokesperson for the ONS said many of the people applying for the numbers fall outside of the “long-term” migrant category counted in latest statistics, Independent.co.uk reported. Some of the applicants who had come to the UK in the past registered for NI recently.
“It should be noted that these figures also include short-term migrants and the figures are based on recorded registration date on the national insurance recording and pay as you earn system (NPS), that is, after the NINo application process has been completed, and so are not a direct measure of when a person migrated to the UK,” independent.co.uk quoted the spokesperson to have said. “As a result of this, NINo and International Passenger Survey estimates are not directly comparable with each other.”