EU net migration dips to its lowest in a decade

With Brexit approaching non-EU immigration hits a record high whilst immigration from the EU and in particular eastern Europe reaches it's lowest since 2009, with future policy alarming manufacturers.

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Net migration from EU27 nations has fallen to its lowest level since 2009, while the total from outside the bloc has risen to its greatest in 15 years, according to official figures released on Thursday.

Increase in arrivals from outside EU larger than exit of EU 27 citizens

In the 12 months to last September, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said net migration stood at 283,000, the increase of arrivals from outside the EU outweighing the exit of citizens from central and eastern European countries ahead of Brexit.According to the ONS, 261,000 more non-EU citizens came to the country than left over the course of the 12 months and, while EU net migration continued to add to the UK's population, it almost halved year-on-year to 57,000, with 145,000 leaving and 202,000 arriving.The figures also showed that 121,000 UK citizens left the country during the 12 months, with 85,000 returning.

Significant number of UK citizens leave the UK

Jay Lindop, director for the centre for international migration at the ONS, said, “Decisions to migrate are complex and a person’s decision to move to or from the UK will always be influenced by a range of factors, including work, study and family reasons.“Different patterns for EU and non-EU migration have emerged since mid-2016, when the EU referendum vote took place. 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, has fallen to a level last seen in 2009. We are also now seeing more EU8 citizens – those from Central and Eastern European countries, for example Poland – leaving the UK than arriving.”The ONS said that, overall, fewer people were arriving for work, but more for study, with non-EU student immigration reaching its highest level since 2011.“The decrease in work-related immigration over the last two years can be largely accounted for by the recent fall in the number of EU citizens arriving with a definite job and the previous fall in the number of EU citizens looking for work,” the report added.

More citizens from central and eastern European countries leaving UK

Tej Parikh, senior economist at the Institute of Directors, said large companies were recruiting workers from outside the EU to compensate for a loss of EU employees.“With job vacancies at record highs, recruiting from abroad has never been more crucial for British businesses," he said."Flexible and hassle-free access to international skillsets is part and parcel of having a globally competitive skills regime, so adjusting to the government's post-Brexit immigration agenda, with its new restrictions, will present some challenges.“Already, firms across the retail, hospitality and construction sectors are facing obstacles as some EU workers are returning home, while it’s also becoming harder to attract labour from Europe amidst the uncertain political climate. Larger organisations have looked to hire from further afield to compensate, despite the additional paper work, but this can be harder for many resource-constrained SMEs.“Businesses will be hoping immigration policy moves beyond political footballing and realises the importance of international workers, of all skillsets, for our Industrial Strategy.”A separate report on Thursday, published by the manufacturers' organisation Make UK (formerly EEF) said the government's post-Brexit immigration plans could have a "disastrous" impact on manufacturing firms.

Manufacturers demand urgent rethink of post Brexit immigration policy

Tim Thomas, Make UK's director of employment and skills policy, said, "There are a number of proposals within the government's Immigration White Paper that risk decimating the manufacturing workforce."We need government to urgently reconsider plans to introduce a salary threshold - as a minimum to reduce the rate and offer a phased approach to any salary threshold introduction to allow businesses to adapt and train a different cohort of employees."As yet, the UK does not have the home-grown talent and expertise to fill what will soon become vacant job roles."We urge the government to take on board real evidence like ours and stop proposing damaging policies that will have significant impacts on the UK economy."A Home Office spokesman said, "The future skills-based immigration system, operating from 2021, is designed to help drive up wages and productivity across the UK economy."We want to attract the talent we need for the UK to prosper while controlling immigration."Skilled workers will be required to meet a minimum salary threshold, which the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) recommends should be set at £30,000. However, we will be making every effort to engage with businesses and employers on this."We have also asked the MAC to review all the Shortage Occupation Lists."
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