Thursday, August 25, 2016

Poland now largest group of non-UK born residents, surpassing India, but net migration figures fall

Poland has surpassed India as the most common non-UK origin of birth for people living in the UK, Office for National Statistics figures show.

The news comes as net migration (difference between the number of people coming to the UK for at least a year and those leaving) has fallen to 327,000 for the year to March. The ONS figures - for the period before Britain voted to leave the EU - are down slightly on the previous year.

Despite rumours that Poles were all going back to a booming Poland a few years ago, it is now estimated that there are 831,000 Polish-born residents in 2015 - a jump of almost 750,000 since Poland joined the EU along with other seven Eastern European countries (the ‘Accession 8’) in 2004. India and the Republic of Ireland have traditionally been the sources of the UK's largest foreign-born migrants. Irish citizens enjoyed free access to the UK, or the Common Travel Area, long before the EU.

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Figures show a slight decline in the numbers settling in the UK from Poland, but the EU migration figures were offset by a massive increase in net migration from Bulgaria and Romania, which reached record levels of 60,000.

Nicola White, ONS Head of International Migration Statistics, said: "Net migration remains at record levels although the recent trend is broadly flat.

"The influx of Romanians and Bulgarians has also reached a new high, although that's off-set by falls in non-EU immigration and from other central and eastern European countries.

"Work remains the main reason for migration, followed by study which has seen a significant fall in the number of people coming to the UK for education.

"It's important to remember that these figures only go up to the end of March and do not cover the period following the UK's vote to leave the European Union."

She added the UK's population continued to increase between 2014 and 2015, driven by "significant increases in both the non-UK born and non-British national population of the UK".

ONS estimates show that 13.3% - around 1 in 7 - of the usually resident population of the UK were born abroad, compared with 8.9% in 2004.

London is the region with the highest proportion of non-UK born residents.

A quarter – 1 in 4 - of births in England and Wales in 2015 were to foreign women born outside the UK, the highest level on record, according to separate figures.

ONS statistician Elizabeth McLaren said: "The rising percentage of births to women born outside the UK is largely due to foreign born women making up an increasing share of the female population of childbearing age in England and Wales.

"Part of the reason for this is that migrants are more likely to be working-age adults rather than children or older people. Alongside their increasing share of the population, higher fertility among women born outside the UK has also had an impact."

Figures show that EU Immigration has not yet peaked and following the Brexit vote, work permits could be introduced for European migrants.

Some data from recent national insurance number (NI) registrations indicate that EU immigration may have levelled off, although  it will take six months to a year to see the effect of the referendum.

The then Labour government, famously predicted in 2004 that immigration from the new EU countries, who could only freely move to the UK, Sweden and Ireland, would peak at 13,000.

In reality, it is impossible to know how many foreign born people are living in the UK for a number of reasons.

Firstly, there is no counting-in/counting-out system covering all migrants and visitors. The Labour government spent billions on IT systems which were scrapped at the cost to the taxpayer.

Secondly, EU migrants can come and go without registering and many do not apply for an NI number, for instance, the self employed. Croatiannationals, whilst part of the EU, cannot work here or obtain an NI numberwithout permission. Like Romanians and Bulgarians before them, many survive here working in ‘cash in hand’ jobs on the black market. 

Migrants can find work here without permits as child minders (as in the case of Baroness Scotland, the Minister who help draft immigration Rules), waiters, builders and in some areas as mini cab drivers.

Finally, there is an estimated 600,000 – 1,000,000 people here illegally or overstaying their visas. Many have now had children who will eventually acquire British citizenship and will form the basis of an application to regularise the parents stay in the UK on human rights grounds. Even though the government will abolish the Human Rights Act, it is extremely unlikely that the UK will be able to find deport a million overstayers. The think tank, ippr, said it would take 20 years and £5 billion to deport 500,000 illegal immigrants.

Sir David Metcalf, the government's chief adviser on immigration controls, has indicated that Prime Minister Theresa May was considering introducing work permits for low skilled migrants from the EU. An estimated half a million EU migrants could be forced to leave the UK.

Sir David, head of the Migration Advisory Committee, told the Telegraph the scheme would be "pretty straightforward" to run and could be based on a previous work permit system for seasonal agricultural workers.

Lord Green, of the Migration Watch pressure group said: "The Brexit negotiations must achieve a significant reduction of EU migration and very firm action is needed against overstaying students from outside the EU."

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