Net migration decreases

30 Aug 2012 | Posted by Carl Thomas

The UK's net migration figures have started todecline, according to the latest figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

The latest estimates revealed that net migration in the year to December 2011 stood at 216,000; a noticeable decrease from 252,000 in the previous 12 months.

However, the ONS stated that the drop is not statistically significant, although the government is playing up the data to suggest that it is on course to meet its target of reducing the country's net migration levels to the tens of thousands by the end of Parliament.

Damian Green, UK immigration minister, said after the release of the figures that he is "confident" that the target of lowering net migration to the tens of thousands will be met. He added that the latest data is "the first sign that the measures we've been taking since we arrived in government two years ago are having an effect".

"We are doing this by improving the selectivity of our immigration system and increasing enforcement activity to prevent people coming into the UK illegally and removing those with no right to be here," added the minister.

"At the same time, there are encouraging signs that we continue to attract the brightest and best and to support tourism in the UK."

However, the reaction hasn't been positive from all angles, with the Institute for Public Policy Research think-tank suggesting that the figures show the "folly" of the government's target, highlighting the fact that around a third of the decline in net migration is due to a rise in emigration, putting the economic future of the country at risk.

"The statistics show that the government remains a long way from its goal," associate director at the think-tank Sarah Mulley remarked.

While there may be some debate around the exact divide between the figures, it is also true to say that UK immigration declined over the 12 month period. For the year to December 2011 it was hovering at around 575,000.