Net-migration touches its lowest level since 2004

Eastern Europeans leaving the UK doubles

27 November 2009: Net-migration has touched its lowest level since the eight accession countries joined the European Union in 2004.

The Office for National Statistics figures reveal net-migration fell to 163,000 in 2008, from 233,000 in 2007, the lowest level since 2004.

The figures also show that 14 per cent or 85,000 of those coming to the United Kingdom in 2008 were British citizens returning to live in Britain. This was more than any other individual nationality.

The total number of Eastern Europeans leaving the UK also more than doubled from 25,000 to 69,000 between 2007 and 2008.

Simultaneously, 1,380 foreign nationals arrived every day for an extended stay of 12 months or more. The number was more than the ones leaving indicating the number of foreigners living in the UK went up by 251,000.

An analysis of the statistics reveals the number of foreigners, as such, increased by 700 each day.

Immigration statistics, covering quarter three of 2009, were released by the Home Office The statistics covers asylum applications, total removals for those illegally in the United Kingdom and migration from Eastern Europe for the period July to September of this year.

Applications from Eastern Europeans to work in the United Kingdom under the worker registration scheme have stabilised at 29,085, compared to 41,265 during the same period last year and 28,060 in quarter two 2009.

The statistics also suggest approximately 427,000 people left the UK. It was up from 341,000 in 2007. They included 172,000 Britons starting all over again in countries such as Australia, Spain and France.

The effect of recession is also evident from the figures. Indications are tens of thousands of foreign workers left for home with the job sector drying up.

In fact, the number of non-Britons leaving the country shot up by 50 per cent from 169,000 to 255,000. A substantial number were Poles who arrived after the expansion of the EU in 2004.

Reacting to the statistics, Border and Immigration Minister Phil Woolas said: ‘Net-migration is falling, showing that migrants come to the UK for short periods of time, work, contribute to the economy and then return home.

‘Our new flexible points-based system gives us greater control over those coming to work or study from outside Europe, ensuring that only those that Britain need can come.

‘Our border has never been stronger, as illustrated by the fall in asylum applications and the record numbers we are stopping at Calais.

‘We are making the UK a more hostile place for illegal immigrants by issuing foreign nationals with ID cards, checking those who apply for visas against watch lists and fining those who employ illegal workers.’

The critics, on the other hand, asserted the fall in net immigration was almost entirely due to many more Eastern Europeans leaving for home than arriving.

Shadow Immigration Minister Damian Green said to make the points-based system effective in cutting immigration to sensible levels, the need was to have an annual limit on the numbers coming here – and more effective measures against those who abuse the loopholes.

MPs Frank Field and Nicholas Soames have asserted the Government policies were having little or no effect on immigration. They chair the cross-party balanced migration group in Parliament.

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