Yesterday I raised in the Commons the issue of the government figures for EU migrants. In recent years the government has issued many more National Insurance numbers to EU migrants than it has counted as migrants in its official migration figures. Over the last five years to June 2015 1.2m more NI numbers were issued than identified inward migrants.
The government says this can be explained by the fact that many people come in for short term jobs and then go home again. A migrants is defined as someone who stays for more than one year. My point is the government needs more accurate figures than its passenger surveys to capture how many people need GPs, school places and other public services. The passenger survey clearly understates numbers by a large margin, and leaves us short of public service provision. The ONS report admitted short term stayers were not the only reason the two figures diverge so much, and have promised a further report, presumably after the Referendum. The government also needs to grasp that if someone comes, gets a job and an NI number and stays for most of the year they may well need a home, school places for their children and a GP.
Asking a random selection of people at the ports why they have entered the UK leads to a large underestimate of how many people come to live here, and an large underestimate of our needs of public services. People may tell the official on arrival they intend to stay for a short time but change their minds once here. The officials may not sample correctly, as of course the migrants are a small proportion of all those entering at a busy port.
I will post the Hansard report of the exchange this morning.