I am for once reproducing the government’s words and analysis as I think readers might find it interesting:
“The independent migration statistics for the year ending June 2013 were published (yesterday) by the Office for National Statistics. They show that our reforms are working, and that immigration is continuing to fall. Net migration from non-EU nationals is down 19 per cent year-on-year, and 36 per cent from its peak in 2010. Last year there were nearly 100,000 fewer people immigrating to the UK than in 2010.
However, whilst net migration is down by nearly a third since its peak in 2010, today’s statistics also show the challenges we still face. In the year to June 2013, annual net migration stood at 182,000. This is a reduction of nearly a third since its peak in 2010, when it stood at 255,000, but it represents an unwelcome increase in net migration in the last year – and it is still too high. So it is important to look in detail at the statistics to see why the successive falls in net migration appear to have stopped.
What is clear is that where the Government can control net migration – i.e. immigration from outside the European Union – our policies are working. Net migration from outside the EU continues to fall sharply. It is down from 218,000 since its peak in 2010, and from 172,000 last year, to 140,000 this year. And it is driven by consecutive reductions in gross immigration.
But the statistics also show that emigration – not just of British people but of foreign nationals who have come here legally – has fallen dramatically: emigration is now at its lowest level since 2001. There has also been a rise in immigration from Western Europe. Net migration from the ‘EU15’ countries increased from 32,000 in the year ending June 2012 to 52,000 in the year ending June 2013. More than half of this is accounted for by an 11,000 increase in the number of Spanish nationals immigrating to the UK for work purposes (up from 7,000 to 18,000).
Other key points to note from today’s statistics:
• Net migration from outside the EU continues to fall – it is down from 218,000 since its peak in 2010 (and from 172,000 last year) to 140,000 this year. This has been driven by consecutive reductions in gross immigration from outside the EU, which now stands at its lowest level since 1998.
• We have tightened the rules for family visas, and family immigration is down – by one fifth since 2010.
we are cracking down on abuse …
• We have ended the industrial-scale abuse of the student visa system we saw under Labour. We have closed down hundreds of bogus colleges, strengthened the English language requirement, and brought in new restrictions on the right to work and bring dependents. As a result, student immigration is down – by almost a third – since 2010.
… whilst attracting the brightest and best:
• At the same time, we have protected genuine students. University sponsored applications are up 7 per cent compared to last year – with an increase in the number of study visas issued to Chinese citizens (up 8 per cent) and Malaysians (up 27 per cent).
• There is no limit on the number of students who can come to the UK. All those who can speak English, have sufficient funds and qualifications, and can get a place on a genuine course can come to study in this country. And those who can get a graduate job earning more than £20,300 can stay to work after their studies.
• We can see strong growth in tourist and business visitors, with an increase of 15 per cent in visitor visas granted over last year, and rises of 40 per cent or more for China, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates.
• Our immigration reforms are supporting British jobs and growth. Under Labour, in the five years to December 2008, more than 90 per cent of the increase in employment was accounted for by foreign nationals. But the labour market statistics released on 13 November show that the total growth in employment since the beginning of the parliament was 1,167,000 – 79 per cent of which is accounted for by UK nationals.
The Immigration Bill continues to build on our reforms
As today’s figures show, it will take time to clear up the mess we inherited from Labour, and we need to continue the reforms we have introduced since 2010. The Home Secretary and I are working with our Ministerial colleagues across the Government to protect public services and to ensure that our welfare system is not open to abuse.
The Immigration Bill, which is currently before Parliament, will make it more difficult for people to live in the UK unlawfully, ensure that immigrants make a fair contribution to our key public services, and make it easier to remove people who have no right to be in this country.
Fixing EU immigration
This week, the Prime Minister set out his long-term plan to fix EU immigration – and to control immigration from Romania and Bulgaria.
In 2004, the Labour Government made the decision that the UK should opt out of transitional controls on the new EU member states. They had the right to impose a seven-year ban before new citizens could come and work here, but Labour refused it. And when Romania and Bulgaria joined the EU, Labour had not learned the lesson. The other major lesson they didn’t learn was that failures in immigration policy were closely linked to welfare and education – if it does not pay to work, or if British people lack skills, that creates a huge space in our labour market for people from overseas to fill. As the Prime Minister announced this week, the Government is:
• training British people to fill those jobs by providing record numbers of apprenticeships, demanding rigour in schools, and building a welfare system that encourages work;
• changing the rules so that no one who comes to this country will be able to claim work benefits for the first three months. If, after three months, an EU national needs benefits they will only be able to claim for a maximum of six months unless they can prove they have a genuine prospect of employment;
• putting in place a new minimum earnings threshold, below which migrants cannot access to benefits such as income support;
• not allowing newly-arrived EU jobseekers to claim housing benefit;
• removing people who are not here to work and are begging or sleeping rough: they will be barred from re-entry for 12 months unless they can prove they have a proper reason to be here, such as a job; and
• clamping down on those who employ people below the minimum wage with a fine of up to £20,000 for every underpaid employee – more than four times the fine today.
As the Prime Minister also said, we believe it is time for a new settlement which recognises that, although free movement is a central principle of the EU, it cannot be an unqualified one. So, as part of our plan to reform the EU, we will work with others to return the concept of free movement to a more sensible basis. We will then let Britain decide by putting that reformed Europe to the British people in an in-out referendum. ”
(Based on a brief to MPs)