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UK net migration at ‘record high’

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Net migration at record high

According to the Office of National Statistics (ONS), net migration has reached a record-high of 606,000.

More than 1,2 million migrants primarily from outside the EU have been granted visas to enter the United Kingdom in order to study, work, or flee conflict or oppression. The ONS estimated that 557 thousand individuals emigrated.

The resultant 606,000 for the year ending in December 2022 is nearly three times the average of between 200,000 and 250,000 prior to Brexit.

It also undermines the government’s 2019 manifesto pledge to reduce the net migration rate from its previous level of 245,000.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) has changed their initial estimation of the net migration figure for the year ending June 2022 from 504,000 to 606,000, which is similar to the year ending December 2022, following an ‘enhancement in their methods’ which provided more accurate data.

Graph of net migration by year
Source: ONS

On Tuesday, Government officials took pre-emptive action by introducing a new policy to limit the number of foreign students in the country. Chancellor Rishi Sunak alleged this to be the most substantial single measure taken to reduce such migration.

It will prohibit the majority of international students from bringing dependents or transferring to work visas prior to graduation.

The number is lower than anticipated, with ministers expressing concern this week that it could reach 700,000 to 800,000 or even one million.

The ONS said: “Both a slowing of immigration and rising of emigration means that levels of net migration have levelled off in recent quarters.

“An estimated 606,000 more people arrived long-term to the UK than departed in the year ending December 2022, 118,000 higher than a year previously, but similar to levels in the year ending June 2022.”

The increase will increase calls for ministers to do more to fulfil their campaign promises.

Robert Jenrick, the minister of immigration, implied on Wednesday that the government may introduce additional measures, stating that “there may be more to do.”

The assurance was described as a “solemn promise to the British public”.

Sir John Hayes, a former home office minister and close ally of the current home secretary, stated that population growth due to high net migration places “unsustainable” pressure on housing and local services.

He stated that it was up to the entire government, not just the Home Office, to bring it down.

“The Government as a whole has got to grasp this issue. You can’t grow your population at 700,000 a year, where on earth are you going to house these people? The pressure it puts on services and housing is unsustainable,” he said.

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