Immigration to Britain will fall sharply this year, a think-tank said this week – but will fall short of the Prime Minister’s target, the Daily Mail reports.
The Institute for Public Policy Research (ippr) claimed that net migration – the difference between the number of people arriving in the UK, and those leaving – would be cut from a record 252,000 in 2010 to 180,000.
But the figure falls short of David Cameron’s commitment to reduce net migration to the ‘tens of thousands’ during the lifetime of the current Parliament, it said.
The IPPR, considered New Labour’s favourite think-tank, claimed the best hope of fulfilling the pledge was for an economic downturn to make the country less attractive to migrants and drive away EU migrants already here.
Its report predicted that the number of migrants coming to the UK from outside the EU would fall by about 10 per cent in 2012, fuelled by new restrictions on foreign students and worsening economic conditions.
But the IPPR said further curbs on skilled migrants coming to the UK were unlikely to reduce overall numbers by more than 10,000.
More restrictions on family migration were also likely to have little immediate effect as they are expected to be held up by legal challenges.
Matt Cavanagh of the IPPR said: ‘While policy changes will start to achieve significant reductions in immigration from outside the EU, this will not be enough to put the Government on track to hit its target.’
But Immigration Minister Damian Green insisted the Government’s aspirations could still be achieved.
‘The IPPR’s predicted reduction in net migration of 70,000 by the end of 2012 is consistent with hitting our target of reducing net migration to the tens of thousands by the end of this Parliament,’ he said.
‘We’ve limited non-EU workers coming to the UK, overhauled the student visa system and will shortly announce reforms of the family migration and settlement routes.’
Mr Green added: ‘The latest quarterly figures show that student visas issued are down 13 per cent and the main work visas issued are down 18 per cent compared with last year – an early sign that our policies are starting to take effect.’ Source: Daily Mail
The government’s tough measures on immigration have already started to bite and the official figures will confirm this.
In the last year the UK Border Agency has introduced sweeping points-based system reforms to Tier 1, Tier 2 working visas and Tier 4 student visas. There has also been a raft of changes to the Immigration Rules and guidance.
Tier 4 visa applications from non-EU students have fallen drastically according to student agents. Private colleges are closing down on a weekly basis, as reported by Immigration Matters readers, as the Tier 4 student visa changes take effect.
They have also scrapped the Post Study Work visa (PSW) from April 2012 and slapped a cap on immigration preventing employers from sponsoring non-EU skilled workers.
Tier 2 sponsoring employers have been hit by the cap on immigration and changes to the work permit rules last year. Care sector employers have stopped taking on non-EU care staff.
Although there is little the government can do to curb EU immigration, in December the Home Office extended employment restrictions on Bulgarians and Romanians for two more years until the end of 2013. In July the UK Border Agency added new requirements – e.g. Comprehensive Sickness Insurance cover – to the ‘Yellow Card’ registration process.
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