Immigration flows have hit their highest level for six years with numbers increasing from Eastern Europe, The Telegraph reports.
Net migration in to the UK soared by almost half last year and is now close to the record levels of 2005.
It is the fifth quarter in a row that net immigration has risen signalling a worrying upward trend.
And two of the main drivers were a slump in emigration and a sharp rise in Eastern Europeans coming to the UK for work – two areas that will not be affected by the Government’s annual cap or other immigration measures.
Figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) yesterday also showed:
- The number of foreign workers increased by 1.7 million in the last decade and accounted for all the increase in employment levels over the period.
- Work visas increased by six per cent in the year to March 2011
- Asylum claims increased by 11 per cent
- Migrants granted settlement in the UK increased by four per cent
Net immigration hit 242,000 in the year to September 2010, according to the Office for National Statistics.
That was a 45 per cent increase on mid 2009 and the highest level since June 2005 when it hit 260,000.
In total, 344,000 people left the UK over the period while 586,000 arrived. The emigration figure was 20 per cent lower than its peak in 2008 and comes amid reports that many are put off by a rising cost of living abroad.
There was also a large increase in the number of Eastern Europeans returning to the UK to look for work as many of the former Eastern Bloc economies falter.
Over the period, there was a net inflow of those EU workers, such as Poles and Lithuanians, of 43,000 compared to a net outflow of 12,000 in 2009, although tracking exact numbers of workers such as self employed or Romanians and Bulgarians, who are still subject to restrictions, is difficult.
Other figures showed the number of work visas granted in the year to March 2011 increased by six per cent to 161,815.
And in the first three months of this year asylum claims rose by 11 per cent compared with the same quarter last year, 4,845 applications.
A separate review by the ONS also found that between 2002 and 2011 the number of non-UK born workers increased by 1.7 million while the number of British workers fell by 223,000.
Over the period, total UK employment levels increased by 1.5 million to 29.1 million workers, meaning the increase was accounted for by migrant workers.
The study also found one in five low-skilled jobs are now filled by foreign staff.
The Government introduced a cap on the number of migrants coming to the UK from outside the EU last month, as well as a crackdown on bogus students and those seeking to settle in the UK.
But ministers were warned that its promise to reduce net migration could be in jeopardy because of the growing trends in areas it cannot affect.
Gerwyn Davies, public policy adviser for the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD), said: “This is consistent with employers who have said that they would look to the EU to recruit workers to fill vacancies that are sometimes difficult to fill, in response to the cap on non-EU migrant workers.”
Matt Cavanagh, associate director of the think thank IPP, said: “When they set the target in opposition, the Conservatives clearly hadn’t planned for emigration continuing to fall.
“This means the Government will have to take even more drastic measures to try to meet their chosen target.
“So they will have to tighten up even further on students or skilled workers coming from outside the EU – the most valuable kinds of immigration for our economy.”
Damian Green, the immigration minister, insisted it was still too early to see the effect of the Government’s measures to cut immigration.
He said: “These statistics show that immigration was out of control thanks to the old system – that is why we have already introduced radical changes to drive the numbers down and we will shortly be consulting on a range of new measures.” Source: The Telegraph.
The government’s measures to cut non-EU immigration, such as the cap on migration and Tier 2 working visa reforms, are already having a drastic effect on numbers and should filter through into next year’s figures.
Care sector employers are complaining they cannot find enough care staff to fill places with the CoS allocations granted to Tier 2 Sponsors only being applicable to graduate level jobs.
But there is little the UK Border Agency can do about the main flow of new immigration, which comes from the EU, or the number of people who leave the UK to find jobs overseas.
Polish and other ‘A8′ Eastern European migrants have the same rights as UK citizens, although Romanian and Bulgarian citizens are still subject to restrictions despite being members of the European Union.
To work in the UK Romanians and Bulgarians generally need to either obtain a work permit or obtain a ‘yellow card’ BR1 registration and become self employed or study and work. After 12 months of continuous work they can apply for a ‘Blue Card’ residence permit.
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