Estimates by the Institute for Public Policy Research, an independent thinktank, suggests that hard economic times in Britain will lead to a reduction in EU and non-EU migrants to 180,000 from around 220,000 in 2011.
As per the report, immigration to the UK is supposed to fall by tens of thousands this year with the reduction largely due to economic factors.
The analysis gives a critical assessment of the government’s approach, claiming its strategy is likely to harm any prospect of economic recovery, while its flagship policy – the cap on the number of skilled migrants outside the EU allowed into the UK – has had no impact.
However, the forecast drop, based on figures from the Home Office and Office for National Statistics along with IPPR analysis of the economic outlook and effects of government policy, believe it is still short of the coalition’s election pledge to reduce net immigration to “tens of thousands”.
The continuing financial crisis, allied to the government’s attempts to decrease migrant numbers coming into Britain, is calculated to prompt a fall in non-EU immigration of about 10 per cent. Similarly, numbers of EU migrants are predicted to decline due to the continuing economic downturn.
IPPR economists say the sluggish global economy has meant that the imposed cap of 21,700 has been irrelevant because British businesses are hiring fewer people.
“It is slightly odd to see a government making a virtue of their flagship policy not actually having had any effect,” cites the report.
Immigration policies identified as having a detrimental effect on the economy include attempts to reduce foreign student numbers dramatically, in particular by removing the option for them to stay in the UK and work after graduation.
Ministers are convinced that government policies are working, saying the report’s forecasts are “consistent with hitting our target of reducing net migration to the tens of thousands by the end of this parliament”.
The immigration minister, Damian Green, said: “The latest quarterly figures show that student visas issued are down by13% and the main work visas issued are down 18 per cent compared to last year – an early sign that our policies are starting to take effect”.