UK & World News

  • 27 February 2014, 16:58

Net Migration To UK Rises By 60,000 In A Year

An extra 60,000 long-term migrants arrived in the UK last year compared to the previous year, new immigration figures have revealed.

The data shows net migration - the difference between migrants leaving and coming to the UK - rose to 212,000 in the year to September 2013, from 154,000 during the preceding 12 months.

It comes as a blow to Prime Minister David Cameron and Home Secretary Theresa May's hopes to bring the figure down below 100,000 by the 2015 general election.

The data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) also showed some 24,000 Romanians and Bulgarians came to Britain during the same period - nearly three times the 9,000 the previous year.

Of these, around 70% came to work, while 30% came to study.

The surge is expected to spark fresh fears of an influx after restrictions barring residents from the two EU countries from coming to the UK for work expired on January 1. They are also entitled to claim benefits like other EU citizens.

Some 65,000 citizens of so-called EU15 countries - pre-2004 members of the European Union - arrived to work in the UK in the year to September, an increase of 23,000 when compared to the previous year.

However, the number of people arriving from non-EU states fellsignificantly to 244,000 in the period, down from 269,000 the previous year.

The ONS said this was due to fewer New Commonwealth citizens - such as those from India - migrating to the UK for formal study.

Immigration Minister James Brokenshire conceded there had been a significant rise in migrant numbers from within the EU, but insisted "successes" had been achieved in terms of migration from outside the EU.

He said: "Uncontrolled, mass immigration makes it difficult to maintain social cohesion, puts pressure on our public services and forces down wages for people on low incomes.

"Our reforms have cut non-EU migration to its lowest level since 1998 and there are now 82,000 fewer people arriving annually from outside the EU than when this Government came to power.

"The Government is ensuring that our controls on accessing benefits and services, including the NHS and social housing, are among the tightest in Europe.

"We cannot impose formal immigration controls on EU migrants, so we are focusing on cutting out the abuse of free movement between EU member states and seeking to address the factors that drive European immigration to Britain.

"We are building an immigration system that is fair to British citizens and legitimate migrants, that is tough on those who abuse the system or flout the law, and that ensures people come to the UK for the right reasons - to work hard and contribute to our economy and society."

He told Sky News the European Commission was now recognising there were "issues of abuse" and that the Government would continue with other EU partners to "make that case for reform".

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