Net number of migrants coming into the UK is rising – and is set to hit 200,000 a year
The net number of migrants coming into the UK is rising and is set to hit 200,000 a year, despite Home Office moves to stem the influx, figures are expected to show this week.
By Tom Whitehead, Home Affairs Editor
Last Updated: 12:59AM GMT 18 Nov 2008
It will be the first rise in net migration since 2004 and another setback for the new immigration minister Phil Woolas, who faced ridicule after apparently calling for a cap and then appearing to row back.
It also piles extra pressure on Mr Woolas who has pledged to not allow the UK population to exceed 70 million – some nine million above its current level.
The rise is likely to be due to migrants from outside the EU as separate figures are expected to show a continuing downward trend in numbers arriving from Eastern Europe.
Shadow Home Secretary, Dominic Grieve, said: “These estimated figures betray a Labour Government that is not in control of immigration policy. Immigration can be of real benefit to the country but only if it is properly controlled.
“They should answer our call to establish an annual limit on non-EU immigration, transitional controls on future EU-immigration and to establish a dedicated UK Border Police force.”
The Office for National Statistics will publish the population statistics for 2007 on Wednesday when it is likely to indicate a rise in net migration.
Figures in August showed that in the 12 months up to mid 2007 there was a net migration in to the country of 198,000 and that was an increase of 9,000 on the previous 12 months.
If a similar pattern continued for the rest of 2007 then the net figures for the calendar year will have increased from 191,000 for 2006 to 200,000 last year.
That would also mean migration has now added some 1.8 million to the population since Labour came to power.
The highest net annual figure was 244,000 in 2004 but the number has been falling ever since.
A rise again will leave serious questions over the Government's policies to reduce the numbers.
The Government has long resisted an annual cap claiming its points based system will have a greater impact but critics say that will only see a reduction of around 12,000 coming to the country each year.
Figures from the Home Office on Wednesday are likely to show another drop in numbers arriving from Eastern Europe suggesting it is migrants from outside Europe that is influencing the figures.
Earlier this year the Home Office faced criticism after saying that immigration from outside the EU was no more than 52 per cent. That figure has been regularly used as evidence that any annual cap on migrants would not have a large effect.
But the Statistics Commission later backed analysis from think tank Migrationwatch that the figure was in fact 68 per cent.
Last month Mr Woolas admitted Labour has made a string of failures in its management of the immigration and asylum system.
It came days after sparking a row by apparently calling for a cap on the number of immigrants coming to the country
Sir Andrew Green, chairman of Migrationwatch, said: “The Government claim that there is no question of allowing our population to hit 70 million but to achieve this they will have to achieve a very substantial reduction in net immigration.
“There is absolutely no sign of this and their much vaunted points based system for work permits will achieve only a reduction of some 12,000.”
The 191,000 net migration figures for 2006 was based on 591,000 people arriving and 400,000 leaving.
A Home Office spokeswoman refused to comment ahead of Wednesdays publications, but said: The points system will ensure that only those with the skills we need and no more can come here to work and study. The system is flexible, allowing us to raise and lower the bar according to the needs of the labour market and the country as a whole and taking population projections into account.
Had Tier 2 of system been in place last year there would have been a 12 per cent reduction in the number of people from outside Europe coming here through the equivalent work permit route. On top of this, our figures show that fewer Eastern European workers are coming here and research suggests that half of those that came to the UK to work have now gone home.