Net migration remains at record high

24 May 2012 | Posted by Carl Thomas

It appears that the government's attempts to crackdown on UK immigration could be focused on the wrong areas as the latest figures show that annual net migration to Britain remains at a record high of more than 250,000 a year.

The data, which comes from the Office for National Statistics (ONS), revealed that in the year to September 2011, the number of people moving to the UK for more than 12 months minus the number moving abroad for more than 12 months was 252,000.

This is just 3,000 below the previous year's figure despite new restrictions on UK visas for students and a dramatic clampdown on UK work permits for overseas workers.

Despite this, the government insists that it remains committed to meeting its target, set out by prime minister David Cameron, of reducing net migration to the "tens of thousands".

The prime minister's official spokesman commented: "There is evidence that the changes we are making to the rules are starting to have an impact. It is still our intention to bring the levels of net migration back down to the tens of thousands. Clearly it is going to take some time."

UK immigration minister Damian Green also stated that the "tough new rules are now making a real difference", claiming that there has been a 62 per cent drop in student visas during the first quarter of 2012 and an overall decline in work visas, family visas and the number of people settling in the UK.

However, he conceded: "But the hangover from the old system of weak controls means it is still too high and we will continue our programme of reforms to bring net migration down from the hundreds of thousands to the tens of thousands."