Latest migration statistics show that the number of EU citizens moving to the UK has continued to drop, but more people coming from elsewhere means the overall migration rate is unchanged.
New figures published today show net migration – the difference between how many people came to the UK for at least 12 months and how many left- was 273,000 last year. EU net migration was 74,000 in the year to the end of June 2018, while non-EU net migration was 248,000.
The Office for National Statistics said more Asian citizens had been moving to the UK for work. It says 219,000 EU citizens arrived in the UK, as 145,000 left, making net EU migration the lowest it had been since 2012. The data also showed non-EU net migration was the highest since 2004. But how has EU migration changed the UK?
Jay Lindop, director of the Centre for International Migration, said overall net migration had peaked in 2016 and remained fairly stable since then, adding that,
In the year to the end of June 2017, EU net migration was 107,000 and non-EU net migration was 173,000. Overall net migration was 273,000 in the same period.
The government’s policy is to reduce overall migration to below 100,000 a year.
Nicola Sturgeon said the figures were not good news for Scotland, and Labour attacked the Government for driving away workers needed to fill shortages in professions like nursing and care
Jay Lindop, director of the Centre for International Migration at the ONS, said,
Net migration continues to add to the population and has remained fairly stable since its peak in 2016, with around 270,000 more people coming to the UK than leaving in the year ending June 2018. However, there are different patterns for EU and non-EU migration.
Due to increasing numbers arriving for work and study, non-EU net migration is now at the highest level since 2004. In contrast, EU net migration, while still adding to the population as a whole, is at the lowest since 2012. Decisions to migrate are complex and people’s decision to move to or from the UK will be influenced by a range of factors.
Madeleine Sumption, director of the Migration Observatory at the University of Oxford said,
EU migrants have been leaving in larger numbers since the referendum, and net inflows have greatly decreased. The lower value of the pound is likely to have made the UK a less attractive place to live and work and economic conditions in several of the top countries of origin for EU migrants have improved.
She added that there were doubts about the accuracy of the non-EU net migration figures, saying,
Other data sources do not support the idea that non-EU citizens are currently contributing so much to net migration.
Commenting, Recruitment & Employment Confederation director of policy Tom Hadley says,
Today’s ONS figures confirm the decrease in the number of EU nationals coming to the UK looking for work, at a time when employers across a whole range of sectors are finding it increasingly hard to find the staff and skills they need. REC data shows that candidate availability is declining month on month, and that 75% of employers have little or no capacity to take on more work without needing to hire more staff. These organisations will need more staff to grow and deliver better services. The shortage is acute across both the private and public sector – particularly in social care and the NHS where ensuring safe staffing levels is an absolute must.
Our new report on public sector recruitment ‘Public Sector 2025’ shows that the public sector faces up to 7 more years of skills shortages based on current demand. This doesn’t even factor in the impact of post-Brexit immigration models. Ongoing uncertainty will do nothing to reverse the trend. UK employers need a comprehensive mobility and migration deal with the EU post-Brexit to ensure that private and public sector organisations can continue to secure the permanent, temporary and seasonal workers they need to be successful. Severely reducing the number of EU workers coming to the UK will make British firms less competitive and put increasing pressure on our public services.