Migration 'set to continue at current levels'

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The Independent Online

Net migration is unlikely to fall much below current levels next year, a think tank predicted today.

Increased immigration from European countries not covered by the Government's proposed immigration cap, along with a downward trend in emigration, will all lead to net migration staying around the 200,000 level in 2011, the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) said.



It warned that introducing "hasty measures" so the Government can try to fulfil its pledge of cutting net migration to the tens of thousands by 2015 would be damaging to the UK's economy.



Nick Pearce, IPPR director, said: "Ministers must be careful to manage down public expectations.



"The cap on skilled migration from outside the EU, which the Government has already put in place, could hurt the economic recovery. Other hasty measures to reduce numbers artificially would be even more damaging.



"Bringing down the level of immigration, which has been high in recent years, is a legitimate policy goal.



"But this should be done by making long-term and sustainable reforms to the structure of our economy and labour market."



The IPPR's Migration Review 2010/11 said that if the UK economy continued to recover, the number of people coming to the UK for work could increase.



The number of migrants coming from Spain, Portugal, Greece and some of the newer member states could also rise if the UK economy performs stronger than countries in the eurozone.



And the substantial rise in the number of people coming to the UK from Latvia and Lithuania - up 19,000 and 21,000 respectively in the year to September compared with increases of 12,000 and 13,000 the previous year - could also continue.



The number of Irish migrants is also expected to increase, with the Economic and Social Research Institute predicting 120,000 Irish nationals could leave, with many coming to the UK.



From next April, the number of migrant workers coming to Britain from outside the EU will be cut by a fifth and capped at 21,700, but this is only expected to cut overall immigration by 2% or 3%.



And emigration by UK citizens has dropped substantially - from just more than 30,000 in the year to March 2010, compared with 130,000 in the previous 12 months - and "there is no obvious reason why this trend should change substantially in 2011".



Other forms of migration - refugee flows, family migration and the return of Britons to the UK - "look set to continue at roughly their current levels", it said.



Immigration Minister Damian Green said: "The Government remains absolutely committed to reducing net migration to sustainable levels - from the hundreds of thousands to the tens of thousands within the lifetime of this Parliament.



"Throughout 2011 we will be introducing extra controls to affect every immigration route.



"We will exert steady downward pressure on immigration numbers through the course of this Parliament, which is the sensible way to deal with the uncontrolled immigration system we inherited."

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