Author: Caoimhe Toman
Net migration from the European Union to the UK fell to its lowest level since 2013, fresh data from the Office of National Statistics has shown.
Overall, net migration including outside of the EU was around 282,000 in 2017, up by 33,000 compared to the previous year. Migration is still well above the government’s target of less than 100,000 people a year with migration from outside the EU recording its highest numbers since September 2011.
Nevertheless the statistics report an “unusual pattern” since many European migrants are leaving the UK in what some people claim to be a “Brexodus”. The ONS records a fall of 33% of EU citizens looking to work in the UK compared to 2016 that recorded 55,000 migrants. Last year that number was down to 37,000.
Nicola White, of the ONS’s migration statistics division, said: “With around 280,000 more people coming to the UK than leaving in 2017, these latest figures show that migration has continued to add to the UK population.
“Net migration fell following record levels in 2015 and early 2016 and has been broadly stable.”
Tej Parikh, senior economist at the Institute of Directors, said on the new statistics that Brexodus was a threat, especially for rural areas that depend on foreign-born workers to fill in the employment gaps in the agricultural sector: “UK employment figures continue to perform strongly, with job vacancies at an all-time high. As a result, skills gaps are opening up across the economy. Individuals from abroad play a crucial role in addressing these shortages, in sectors from agriculture right through to financial services.
“With a stretched labour market, maintaining our attractiveness to international talent and bolstering businesses’ access to global skillsets will be essential. The government’s aim for an ambitious post-Brexit labour mobility scheme is welcome, but we also need to see the government creating a positive overall migration policy later on this year that enables companies to take advantage of opportunities for growth around the world.”