The net number of people migrating to the UK rose from 175,000 in 2013 to 243,000 this year, according to new figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS).
The data, for the 12 months to March, showed the vast majority of UK immigration – two-thirds – came from European Union countries, with the number of Romanian and Bulgarian migrants more than doubling to 28,000 from 12,000 during the period.
The figures showed that while an overall 560,000 immigrants arrived in the UK, around 316,000 people also left the country. Some 228,000 came for work purposes and 177,000 were students. The ONS said that the long-term immigration figure remained ‘relatively stable’.
The Government has targeted a reduction in net migration to below 100,000 a year by next year, but it cannot control how many people arrive in the UK from EU member states due to freedom of movement rules.
Immigration and Security Minister James Brokenshire told the BBC: "Uncontrolled, mass immigration makes it difficult to maintain social cohesion, puts pressure on public services and forces down wages. That's why our focus remains on controlling migration at sustainable levels."
In a separate report, the ONS said that there are now more people living in the UK who were born elsewhere. In the last decade, the percentage of the ‘usual’ UK population born abroad has jumped from 8.9 per cent to 12.4 per cent. The percentage of the population with non-UK nationality also rose over the same period from 5 per cent to 7.8 per cent.
More than a quarter of children born in the UK now also have mothers who were born in another country.