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Exceeding expectations: Net migration decreases faster than government projections

23 May 2013

Today’s new data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) show the lowest net migration for a decade, significantly exceeding the Government’s projected impact of its own policy changes for the first half of the current parliament. But the Government is still dependent on higher emigration levels and/or falling EU migration if it is to have a chance of hitting its net-migration target, a new commentary from the Migration Observatory at Oxford University reveals.

The new Migration Observatory commentary, The Halfway Point, explains that latest ONS statistics show net migration at 153,00,000 for the year to September 2012, from a peak of 255,000 in the year to September 2010. This shows that the Government has exceeded its projections of the amount by which it could reduce net migration by 2012 by a total of 53,000.

However, The Halfway Point also shows that government projections for the period from 2012-2015 suggest that the policy changes introduced since 2011 can only be expected to reduce net migration by a further 27,000.

Dr Scott Blinder, acting director of the Migration Observatory at the University of Oxford, said: “The decrease in net migration has gone further than government impact assessments suggested they would by this point and reached its lowest level for a decade. The question now is whether this will continue.”

“The impact assessments show scope for net migration to fall by another 27,000 by 2015. This would not, on its own, be enough to get net migration to below 100,000, and instead suggests a figure of about 126,000, but of course the numbers could continue to fall by more than the projections suggest.”

However, The Halfway Point also points out that the annual cap on skilled labour from outside the EU has never yet been filled. This has helped keep immigration lower than it could potentially be by several thousand per year. Other factors like potential increased migration from the EU including from Romania and Bulgaria could also increase net migration and affect the Government’s chances of hitting its target.

Dr Blinder added: “The crux of the matter is that EU migration is a wild-card, and so is emigration. So the factors that seem likely to determine whether the target is hit are not directly in the Government’s hands.”

Ends

To read the full commentary visit: http://migrationobservatory.ox.ac.uk/commentary/halfway-point-net-migration-has-fallen-can-government-hit-its-target

For further information contact:

Rob McNeil Senior Media Analyst, The Migration Observatory at the University of Oxford.

e: robert.mcneil@compas.ox.ac.uk; Tel: 01865 274568; Mob: 07500 970081

Editors Notes:

About the Migration Observatory

Based at the ESRC Centre on Migration, Policy and Society (COMPAS) at the University of Oxford, the Migration Observatory provides independent, authoritative, evidence-based analysis of data on migration and migrants in the UK, to inform media, public and policy debates, and to generate high quality research on international migration and public policy issues. The Observatory’s analysis involves experts from a wide range of disciplines and departments at the University of Oxford.
The Migration Observatory is funded by: Unbound Philanthropy; the Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Fund and the Barrow Cadbury Trust.
The Centre on Migration, Policy and Society (COMPAS) at the University of Oxford conducts high quality research in order to develop theory and knowledge, inform policy-making and public debate, and engage users of research within the field of migration. For further details see the COMPAS website: www.compas.ox.ac.uk .
COMPAS is core funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) www.esrc.ac.uk.

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