The truth about immigration: Citizenships granted fall by 35,000 in a year

Contrary to claims that Britain is being 'swamped', the net number of incomers to the country has dropped sharply

Britain's immigration rate is decreasing and we are far from being "swamped", according to an official report presented to the Foreign Office last week. The new figures, obtained by
The Independent on Sunday, suggest the Government is starting to get immigration under control. They undermine gloomy warnings of "overcrowding" made by pressure groups and parties including the British National Party.

Applications for British citizenship have also shown a marked decline in recent years, as economic turmoil and government shake-ups have had an impact on the numbers attempting to settle in the UK.

The figures undermine the claims of critics such as the BNP leader Nick Griffin (below), who last week told a BBC Question Time audience that "it's time to shut the door because this country is overcrowded". Mr Griffin, ridiculed on the programme for his views on race, homosexuality and Islam, responded to criticism the following day by complaining that London – where the programme was filmed – had been "ethnically cleansed" and was "no longer British".

Despite a broadly negative response to his comments, he appeared to hit a nerve when he accused the Government and the media of failing to address the issue of people's concern about immigration. One poll taken after his appearance on Question Time found that more than one in five people would "seriously consider" voting for his party. The level of potential support YouGov recorded for the BNP was more than three times the 6.2 per cent it secured in this June's European Parliament ballot – its best-ever showing in a national election.

Concern over the issue continues to rise: in the decade up to 2004, the pollsters Mori found the percentage of adults saying immigration was the biggest issue facing Britain had risen from 5 per cent to 30 per cent.

But the new figures, compiled by the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) suggest that, while immigration into the UK remains high compared with the rest of Europe, the problem is not as acute as many believe. Above all, officials point out that the rate of immigration into Britain is slowing, while the rate of emigration is rising. The number of foreign nationals entering Britain fell from 460,000 in 2006 to 441,000 in 2008, while, during the same period, the total of foreigners leaving rose from 173,000 to 237,000. The number of citizenship applications granted fell by 35,000, to 130,000, in a single year up to 2008.

"There's a lot of concern among so-called ordinary people about high levels of recent immigration," said Tim Finch, head of migration at IPPR. "But it's striking that people are keen not to articulate that as being the fault of immigrants. The perception that the Government hasn't been controlling it is what's upsetting them."

However, the increased prominence given to the race/immigration issue appears to have emboldened some people to use it as an excuse for conflict: after a general decline, racist attacks have gone up by 20,000 this year. According to Home Office reports, in 2006-07, 61,262 racist incidents were reported to the police, an increase of 3.7 per cent over the previous year, and a 28 per cent increase over the past five years. Approximately half the police forces in England and Wales reported an increase in racially and religiously motivated incidents.

Yet Mr Finch insists that the people he has interviewed are eager to point out that they are not motivated by race "or not wanting to live in a multicultural society".

He added: "It suits the far right to paint this scary picture, but that's not the case. The numbers have changed Britain, but there hasn't been a negative impact on many areas of society because of immigration."

The IoS's snapshot of people across a range of races and cultures appears to confirm this. Despite the furore over Mr Griffin and his party, Britain's experience of race relations is an overwhelmingly positive one. Every day, across Britain, people of all races interact routinely, naturally. The stories on the following pages represent the majority, rather than an unhappy minority.

Myth and reality: Sorting the facts from the fiction on immigration

Britain isn't British any more

The myth: Nick Griffin claimed that "we, the indigenous British people, will become an ethnic minority in our own country well within 60 years – and most likely sooner".

The reality: The Celtic Britons were conquered by the Romans, who were replaced by the Anglo-Saxons after they left; followed by the Vikings, the Normans, the Italians, more Germans, the Irish, Jews, Indians, West Indians...

Immigrants are responsible for violent crime

The myth: Many newspaper articles claim crime is caused by immigration. The Daily Mail said in August that one in every five killers is an immigrant. In 2008 the Daily Express quoted the chief constable of Kent, Mike Fuller, as blaming "migration surges" for a 35 per cent rise in violent crime in the county.

The reality: Over a three-year period ending in 2006-07, the Government reported 23 racially motivated homicides. In Scotland and N Ireland, attacks on new immigrants from within the EU continued to be reported at a high rate. Racist and religiously motivated offences totalled 39,643 in 2007-08, the last year for which UK statistics are available. It was 21,750 ten years ago.

Migrants are taking our jobs

The myth: "Nearly all the jobs created in the UK since 2001 have gone to immigrants – not British-born workers," claimed Sir Andrew Green, the chairman of Migration Watch.

The reality: The economic forecasters Oxford Economics said: "Migrant workers now account for 11 per cent of UK jobs. Within Europe, the UK has a lower overall migrant employment share than many developed countries, including Spain, Germany, Ireland and Sweden."

Immigrants get priority housing

The myth: "Well-meaning welfare programmes have been exploited to become nothing more than a free handout to scroungers, foreign and local," said the BNP.

The reality: A study for the Equality and Human Rights Commission in July found that 1.8 per cent of social tenants had moved to Britain within the past five years. Nearly 90 per cent were British-born.

Racist crime is on the rise

The myth: A relentless and increasing tide of racist attacks is sweeping through Britain, as the BNP and its supporters become emboldened by electoral success, according to anti-fascist campaigners.

The reality: According to Home Office reports, in 2006-07, 61,262 racist incidents were reported to the police, an increase of 3.7 per cent over the previous year. Among these, there were 42,551 racially or religiously aggravated offences, representing a 2.6 per cent increase over the previous year.

Muslims want sharia law in UK

The myth: "There are a lot of things that happen in Trafalgar Square that should not happen – the drugs, the alcohol," said the radical Muslim extremist Anjem Choudary. "Under sharia law it would be a different environment and atmosphere."

The reality: A British Muslims for Secular Democracy spokesman said: "We are proud of the heritage of this country and British heroes like Nelson and Churchill have made this country the place it is today. It reflects badly on the entire Muslim community when this group does these very aggressive activities."

London has been ethnically cleansed

The myth: BNP leader Nick Griffin argued that the Question Time audience was hostile because London had been "ethnically cleansed".

The reality: London is a cosmopolitan world city with residents from 243 different countries. Nearly 70 per cent of those are white, 60 per cent describe themselves as white British, and 70 per cent were born in the UK.

Britain faces immigration crisis

The myth: Roger Martin, chair of the think tank Optimum Population Trust, said: "Britain's population increase is out of control; we are on course for a high-density, low-quality future."

The reality: Before the recession, the number of migrants coming to Britain was roughly on a par with the number leaving Britain. The ONS immigration statistics for the year to December 2008 showed a total of 395,000 people emigrated, up 24 per cent on the year before. They included 237,000 non-Britons, many Eastern Europeans.

Money is being wasted on translation services

The myth: "Translation has been used too frequently and without thought," said the then communities secretary Ruth Kelly in 2007, and people should be encouraged to learn English.

The reality: The former head of the CRE, Trevor Phillips, said: "Translation is a way of helping people in transition to integrate into our society."

Kids don't speak English in class

The myth: According to Sir Andrew Green of Migration Watch: "There are more than 300 primary schools in which over 70 per cent of pupils have English as a second language."

The reality: Figures from the DfE in 2007 show that in inner London primary schools, 53.4 per cent spoke a dialect other than English as their main language, while in secondary schools it was 49.3.

Victoria Richards

On the last day of campaigning before the polling booths open, the SNP leader has written to voters in a final attempt to convince them to vote for independence
voicesIs a huge gamble on oil keeping the First Minister up at night?
Life and Style

Apple has been hit by complaints about the 1.1GB download

Arts and Entertainment
Liam Neeson said he wouldn't

Liam Neeson's Downton dreams

A 'Sir Alex Feguson' tattoo

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
Ben Whishaw is replacing Colin Firth as the voice of Paddington Bear

Thriller is set in the secret world of British espionage

Life and Style

Life and Style

Bomber jacket worn by Mary Berry sells out within an hour

Life and Style
Alexander McQueen A/W 2014
fashionPolitics aside, tartan is on-trend again this season
Arts and Entertainment
Rapper Jay Z performs on the Pyramid Stage at Glastonbury in 2008
musicSinger sued over use of the single-syllable sample in 'Run This Town'
Joel jumps over the board...and into a giant hole
footballFrom joy to despair in a matter of seconds
Arts and Entertainment
Pointless host Alexander Armstrong will voice Danger Mouse on CBBC

Much-loved cartoon character returns - without Sir David Jason

Arts and Entertainment
Meera Syal was a member of the team that created Goodness Gracious Me

Actress to appear in second series of the hugely popular crime drama

Arts and Entertainment
The former Doctor Who actor is to play a vicar is search of a wife

Matt Smith is set to join cast of the Jane Austen classic - with a twist

Life and Style

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Email Designer

£30000 - £35000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client is curr...


Competitive Salary: Randstad Education Group: The Job We are currently recruit...

NQT Teachers

Negotiable: Randstad Education Crawley: Randstad Education can provide you wit...


Competitive Salary: Randstad Education Group: Randstad Education is currently ...

Day In a Page

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week