Population and immigration undercounted
Thousands more migrants are in the UK than previously claimed after officials under estimated the size of the population, the Government's statisticians admitted yesterday.
By Tom Whitehead
The Telegraph (U.K.), May 14, 2010
A revision of the way migration statistics are collated has found there were 15,000 more people living in the UK in 2008 than previously thought.
It was mainly as a result of under counting in net migration the difference between numbers arriving in the country and those leaving meaning thousands more people moved or returned to UK than originally estimated.
The change will further fuel concerns over the accuracy of immigration statistics and the true picture of movements in and out of the country.
Local authorities have continually raised concerns that official estimates are not sufficient meaning the true numbers of migrants moving in to towns and cities is not known.
They fear that, in turn, leads to under funding from central Government and a further strain on local resources and budgets.
The quality of immigration figures was regularly under the spotlight during the election campaign with Labour accused on at least two occasions of issuing misleading statistics.
The population in 2008 was originally estimated at 61,383,200 by the Office for National Statistics but revised figures have increased that to 61,398,200.
During the same year it was estimated that 187,300 more people moved to the UK than left but that figure has now been revised upwards to 192,100.
Sir Andrew Green, chairman of Migrationwatch, said: 'This illustrates the difficulty of getting accurate numbers for our population.
'Proper border checks that record individuals coming and going cannot come too soon.'
Theresa May, the Home Secretary, yesterday said work would start immediately on setting an annual cap on migrants from outside the EU a Conservative election pledge.
However, Mrs May said senior politicians will not be choosing a 'figure out of thin air' for the new limit, adding: 'There will be a process of looking into the factors we need to take into account.'