300,000! That Was the Overall Number of Migrants Last Year

Steve Doughty, Daily Mail, February 26, 2015

David Cameron’s promise to curb immigration was shattered yesterday by figures revealing it has hit the highest level on record.

Annual net migration–the measure of how many people have come into Britain minus those who have left–has reached nearly 300,000.

When he took power in 2010 Mr Cameron pledged to bring this politically sensitive figure below 100,000. A total of 624,000 people migrated to Britain in the 12 months up to last September while 327,000 left. The inflow is up 94,000 on the year before.

The fact that most of the extra migrants–190,000 of the net inflow of 298,000–came from countries outside the EU provides further embarrassment for the Prime Minister.

Unlike EU citizens, these people have no automatic right to work here and the Government had pledged to slash their numbers.

There were increasing numbers of arrivals from the Indian sub-continent and a rise in ‘chain migration’ where existing migrants bring in their relatives.

Opposition politicians said Mr Cameron’s immigration policy was ‘in tatters’ and pro-immigration pressure groups said he should instead focus on improving the lives of new arrivals.

Labour MP Frank Field said last night: ‘Every set of immigration data reinforces the need to control our borders.

‘How can one expect a country to maintain its common identity and memories when in one year the population change alone was almost one million people–327,000 leaving and 624,000 arriving.

‘That’s over a one-seventieth change in the entire population.

‘At this rate in the next parliament it’ll be the equivalent to the whole of inner London’s population being changed.’

Downing Street described the figures as a ‘disappointment’ but also a reflection of a strong economy.

The highest numbers previously recorded were 600,000 in September 2010. When Mr Cameron entered Downing Street in May 2010 net migration was running at 244,000.

Yesterday’s 298,000 figure has been surpassed only once, in 2005.

While eastern European immigration remains steady, the majority of EU migrants now come from Spain, Portugal, Italy, Greece and France, which all have moribund economies and high youth unemployment.

The figures also show that nearly 200,000 Romanians and Bulgarians applied for national insurance numbers to work in the UK in 2014.Yet only 37,000 were registered as arriving in the 12 months to September of that year–suggesting that tens of thousands were here before the lifting of labour restrictions that January.

Phoebe Griffith, of the Labour-leaning IPPR think tank, said: ‘In light of these numbers, the Government urgently needs to broaden its focus to the experiences and impact of migrants once they arrive.

‘They need to do more to address the pressures of immigration, including on local authorities, schools, GPs and social cohesion.’

But Lord Green of Migration Watch UK, a campaign group which has a record of accurate projections of immigration, said: ‘These figures will be extremely disappointing for the public. The additional pressure on housing and public services is clearly unmanageable. This outcome is a wake-up call to redouble efforts to tackle mass immigration.’

He added: ‘If political leaders are content with net migration of 300,000, they should say so. Otherwise they should pledge to continue with a target and set out policies to achieve it.

‘A problem as serious as this requires serious money.

‘We call on all political parties to double the resources available for immigration control, which now account for only 0.25 per cent of Government expenditure.’

In an interview with Woman & Home magazine, Mr Cameron defended his policy and blamed the booming British economy for attracting workers from around the world.

‘Outside the EU, immigration has come down, thanks to the action we have taken since 2010, for example, closing down 700 bogus colleges.

‘But inside the EU, migration has gone up, partly because Britain’s economy has been strong and we’ve been creating 1,000 new jobs a day, which is why I have put forward tough welfare policies that I will secure as part of our renegotiation with the EU.

‘There are four parts to it–firstly, if someone comes to the UK from the EU to look for work, they do not get unemployment benefit.

‘Secondly, if they have not found work after six months, they will be forced to return home. Thirdly, if they do find work here they will not be able to claim in-work benefits like tax credits or social housing for four years. And fourthly they will no longer be able to send home child benefit to their country of origin.’

Mr Cameron had hoped to use his immigration speech last year to announce a cap on the numbers of people who can come to Britain from elsewhere in the EU.

But the idea was jettisoned by German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who insisted there could be no question of altering freedom of movement rules.

Phoebe Griffith, from the IPPR think tank, said: ‘These figures confirm that the net migration target has failed. In light of these numbers, the government urgently needs to broaden its focus to the experiences and impact of migrants once they arrive in Britain.

‘They need to do more to address the pressures of immigration, including on local authorities, schools, GPs and social cohesion.’

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