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Government would have to cut net migration from outside the EU by 70% to hit its target

24 Nov 2011

The government would have to cut net migration from outside the EU by at least 70 per cent if it is to hit its target of cutting total net migration to the “tens of thousands” Oxford University’s Migration Observatory said today.

Data released today by the Office for National Statistics shows that net migration increased to 252,000 in 2010 – its highest calendar year figure on record. This figure includes 34,000 net migration of EU nationals (including British) which the government cannot restrict.  So, the entire 152,000 cuts that would be needed to hit a “tens of thousands” target would have to come from the remaining 218,000 net migration from outside the EU – a cut of 70 per cent.

The Migration Observatory published work in August this year highlighting that any rise in EU net migration – which today’s figures show have risen from -24,000 in 2008, to + 14,000 in 2009 and + 34,000 in 2010 – increases the challenge for the Government’s efforts to reach their target.

(August 2011) Targeting Uncertainty: EU Migration in the UK

Dr Martin Ruhs, director of the Migration Observatory at Oxford University said: “This is not the news that the Government wanted to hear. The latest figures tell us that EU-net migration, which the Government cannot control, is increasing. This means even deeper cuts to non-EU net-migration are necessary to reach the target of the tens of thousands”.

The Migration Observatory published analysis in June looking at the complexities of reducing the various different non EU immigration categories (students, family members, labour migrants) and how likely it was that the Government would achieve it’s target for each of these groups based on the policies in place.

(June 2011) Off target: Government politics are not on track to reducing net migration to the tens of thousands by 2015

Dr Ruhs added: “Focussing on net migration as a single metric to demonstrate the success or failure of policy is problematic as it makes the government hostage to fortune. We have suggested in the past that looking at a suite of indicators – including for example immigration,  the stock of migrants in the country, and the number of short-term migrants –  would provide a better and more complete picture of how migration to the UK is changing.”

(May 2011) Net weight: Focussing only on net migration doesn’t show the whole picture


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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