East European Immigration Slows

East European immigration slows

BBC News
Last Updated: Tuesday, 21 August 2007, 11:28 GMT 12:28 UK

The number of Eastern European workers registering in the UK has dropped for the second quarter in a row.

Official figures show 50,000, mostly Polish applicants, registered to work between April and June 2007.

Some 9,600 Bulgarians and Romanians also registered under the tighter rules affecting those two EU members.

The Home Office says it met a 2006 target for removing failed asylum seekers – but new figures suggest it has missed it over the last 12 months.

On Eastern European workers, figures show a cumulative total of 683,000 applicants from nations which joined the EU after May 2004 – but that the rate of arrivals had slowed in 2007.

Net migration into the UK between 2000 and 2005

Between April and June 2007 there were 50,000 applications to join the UK's worker registration scheme compared with 52,000 in the first three months of the year and 65,000 in the last three months of 2006.

Some 66% of the applications have been Polish, a trend which has continued month-by-month in 2007. About 8% of the workers have dependants including children.

Bulgarian and Romanian workers were not allowed free access to the UK when the two nations joined in January 2007 – and figures show only 9,565 people from both nations applied to come to the UK between April and June 2007.


Separate figures for asylum seekers show the number of people refused asylum who were removed from Britain in the second quarter of the year fell by 6% compared with the previous three months – and is the lowest level for five years.

“We have said we will double resources for immigration policing and last year we delivered record removals,” Home Office minister Tony McNulty

Immigration facts and figures

In September 2004, former Prime Minister Tony Blair set a target that more failed asylum seekers should be removed every quarter than new unfounded cases arrived in the UK.

In an earlier review of 2006 figures, the Home Office says it met the target – however, figures for removals for the 12 months to June 2007 show the government has missed the target after prioritising the deporation of 2,800 foreign criminals reaching the end of sentences.

The last time it definitely hit the target was April-June 2006. The Home Office has stopped publishing data on the the so-called “tipping point” target.

Home Office Minister Tony McNulty said that while the focus had recently been on foreign prisoner removals, the overall picture was of an improving immigration system.

“We have said we will double resources for immigration policing and last year we delivered record removals of those still in Britain illegally – with one being deported every eight minutes,” he said.

“In the next 12 months we are introducing a single border force, fingerprint checks for all visa applicants, ID cards for foreign nationals, electronic passenger screening and an Australian-style points system.

“In addition we removed nearly 2000 foreign national prisoners in the first six months of this year, and the prime minister has vowed to deport 4,000 by the end of the year.”

But Sir Andrew Green of pressure group Migrationwatch UK said: “”Today's figures only concern Eastern Europe and they show that Eastern Europeans are arriving at rather more than 500 a day.

“To which you need to add those who are self employed and they don't have to register, and probably others who don't bother to register because it costs them 70 or 80 pounds to do so.

“So you're talking about an inflow on a huge scale, which is in addition to even larger numbers that are coming from the Third World. This is placing a huge strain on our infrastructure – it's out of hand.”

Missing figures

For the second year running the government had delayed the publication of figures for net-migration into the UK – a figure which gives an indication of how many extra people are living in the country.

Figures for 2005 show 185,000 more people came to the UK than left over the year – although that figure was lower than 2004's record of 222,000.

But Shadow Home Secretary David Davis said the omission of 2006 figures was alarming.

“This will reinforce concerns that the Government has no idea who is entering and leaving the United Kingdom,” said Mr Davis.

“What figures we do have show an immigration and asylum system that is out of control. Not only are the Government missing their own, artificially hand-picked target of removing more failed asylum seekers than arrive but at the same time they are neglecting to deal with other crises – like the foreign prisoner debacle.


Asylum Statistics 2006 [573k]
Accession Monitoring report: A8 countries [1 MB]
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