Fall in EU net migration outweighed by non-EU arrivals

Overall net migration is stable at 273,000 as increasing non-EU immigration makes up for a 60 per cent fall in the number of EU migrants since Brexit vote.

Passengers stand at airport immigration queue
Net migration from the European Union to the UK has fallen to its lowest level in nearly six years while net arrivals from outside the bloc have hit their highest level since 2004, according to official data released on Thursday.Figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) official statistics showed that, in the year to June, some 74,000 more EU nationals came to live long term in the country than left.The figure was the lowest since the year ending September 2012, when it stood at 65,000. By comparison, the latest estimate was 60 per cent lower than in the year to June 2016 - the month of the Brexit referendum - when net EU migration stood at 189,000.

Increasing migration to UK from outside the EU

However, the decrease in arrivals, and increase in departures, of EU nationals was more than offset by the number of people coming from outside the bloc. The latter net figure has increased over the past five years and, in the year to June, stood at 248,000.Overall, net migration over the 12 months stood at 273,000 with 625,000 people, including students, arriving in the UK and planning to stay more than a year, and 351,000 people leaving.The government continues to stand by its long-term aim of reducing annual net migration to below 100,000.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.”

Impact of migration changes on skills for industry

Matthew Fell, UK policy director at the Confederation of British Industry, described the latest figures as highlighting the continuing trend of falling net EU migration amid growing shortages across all skills levels in the UK.He added: "Ninety-two per cent of businesses cited Brexit as impacting their ability to recruit and train staff in 2018. This means hospitals, schools and housebuilders are already struggling to get the staff they need. Banning workers from overseas earning less than £30,000 will only make this worse.“Against the backdrop of Brexit economic assessments, implementing a restrictive approach to immigration would result in a double whammy for the UK economy.

“Any new system must be based on evidence rather than politically driven targets. Most importantly, firms of all sizes and sectors will need ample time to adjust to what will be a seismic change.”Satbir Singh, chief executive of the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants, said: "We’ve had eight years of toxic rhetoric and a hostile environment targeting anyone in this country who happened to be born elsewhere. And two years of complete uncertainty about this government’s ability and willingness to protect rights after Brexit."But when a neighbour or a colleague or a friend says ‘enough now’ and leaves, we all lose out. Now is the time for new ideas and a new conversation, for a better, fairer immigration system that works for everyone.” 
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