UK immigration down 80,000

23 May 2013 | Posted by Carl Thomas

The number of people coming to the UK in the last year is down by 80,000, according to the latest UK immigration figures.

Compiled by the Office for National Statistics, the data showed that net migration fell by a third. In the year to September 2012, 153,000 more people came to the country than left.

This drop in net migration was made up of both an increase in people leaving and a decrease in people moving to Britain on UK visas and other migration paths. In the 12-month period, 500,000 people moved to Britain (down from 581,000), while the number of people leaving increased from 339,000 to 347,000.

Mark Harper, UK immigration minister, claimed that the figures demonstrated that the government's reforms have started to “cut out abuse” from the system: “The figures show we have cut out abuse while encouraging the brightest and best migrants who contribute to economic growth.”

He added that the figures also confirmed there has been a five per cent increase in the number of UK visas and work permits issued to skilled workers from abroad.

David Cameron claimed that he would reduce net migration to the “tens of thousands” before the end of Parliament, but discouraging migrants has not been seen as a strong economic move by everyone.

Student visas are a particularly contentious issue at the moment, with many people calling for them to be removed from the net migration figure. Sarah Mulley, migration expert with the Institute of Public Policy Research, remarked on the fact that government policies risk discouraging students from overseas: “Falling student numbers will not help the government meet its target in the medium term.

“Because most students stay in the UK only for a short time, reduced immigration now will mean reduced emigration in the future, which by 2015 could partially reverse the falls in net migration we are seeing now.”