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UK net migration in 2022 revised to 745,000

  • UK net migration peaks.
  • Political challenges for government.
  • Proposed measures face criticism.

According to data, net migration into the United Kingdom reached an all-time high of 745,000 last year, significantly greater than anticipated.

According to data released by the Office of National Statistics on Thursday, experts have revised their previous estimates.

It reported in May that net migration for 2022, which is calculated as the difference between the number of individuals entering and exiting the country, was 606,000, an estimate 139,000 below the actual figure.

No. 10 deemed migration “far too high” but was taking action.

According to the spokesman for Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, migration is “unsustainable pressure on communities and councils,” and restrictions are being placed on dependents of students entering the United Kingdom. He further stated, “We believe there is still work to be done.”

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer characterised “shockingly high” net migration as “an economic and asylum crisis as well as a failure of immigration.”

Population Growth and Migration Trends

Population growth in England and Wales accelerated to an estimated 1% in the year leading up to June 2022, according to the ONS. This was the highest rate of growth since the baby boom of the 1960s, and international migration was the primary driver.

It cautioned, however, that its estimates are subject to revision once more, and preliminary data through June of this year indicates that the rate of net migration may be decelerating.

According to statisticians, net migration decreased to 672,000 in the year leading up to June, as 1.2 million individuals settled in the United Kingdom for a minimum of one year and 508,000 departed.

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A significant proportion of the arrivals (968,000) originated from nations other than the European Union.

As was the case the previous year, the largest category of non-EU migrants consisted of students.

Shifts in Immigration Patterns

The ONS reports, however, that there has been an increase in the number of workers arriving with visas to cover chronic staff shortages in the NHS and social care.

The ONS reported that humanitarian route arrivals decreased from 19% to 9% during the same time period, with the majority of these being British nationals (Overseas) and Ukrainians arriving from Hong Kong.

They reported that estimates of immigration have changed significantly since 2021, subsequent to Brexit, the cessation of free movement for EU citizens, the relaxation of travel restrictions in the wake of the pandemic, and the conflict in Ukraine.

The ONS stated, however, that it was premature to determine whether the most recent declining net migration figure marked the beginning of a downward trend; recent estimates did suggest a deceleration in immigration and an increase in emigration.

Political Challenges and Government Response

Following over a decade of Conservative-led administrations making commitments to decrease figures, the prime minister now faces a political challenge in the form of these most recent figures.

Former Conservative prime minister and current foreign secretary David Cameron vowed in 2010 to reduce net migration to under 100,000 with “no ifs, no buts.” Furthermore, the party pledged in its 2019 manifesto to reduce the rate, although it did not specify a time limit.

In addition to “stopping the boats” (referring to the issue of individuals attempting perilous English Channel crossings in small vessels), Home Secretary James Cleverly stated that the government remained “completely committed” to reducing levels of legal migration.

He stated that the ONS figures did not reflect a “substantial increase from the previous year’s figures” and attributed their decline to “a number of significant and positive changes.”

Government Measures and Criticisms

Students and healthcare workers are the primary forces propelling immigration to the United Kingdom, he said. This serves as evidence of our world-class university sector and our ability to prioritize the skills we require through our immigration system.

He further stated that he was “proud” the United Kingdom had hosted over 500,000 individuals via humanitarian routes over the past decade, primarily from Afghanistan, Hong Kong, and Ukraine, but that they still needed to reduce the number by eliminating corporate and individual abuse and exploitation of our visa system.

Although, some Conservative MPs remain unconvinced by his argument.

The New Conservative faction, situated to the party’s right, urged Rishi Sunak to “act immediately” regarding the critical matter of “do or die” and put forth a series of proposals aimed at mitigating migration.

Proposed Measures and Criticisms

  • Health and social care workers may be accompanied by one relative at most.
  • Increasing the salary requirement for work visas
  • And eliminating the mechanism that permits employers to reduce wages in areas where shortages are acknowledged.

Downing Street asserted the need to meticulously evaluate all potential next actions.

The government has faced criticism from Labour due to the financial burden associated with accommodating asylum seekers in hotels, a negligible portion of the total migration.

Despite a marginal decline in the asylum backlog, hotel utilization reached an all-time high in September, according to data released by the Home Office on Thursday as well.

Hotels accommodated a total of 56,042 individuals. Whereas 58,444 individuals were in “dispersed” accommodation, which typically consisted of housing sourced from private corporations by the Home Office.

Yvette Cooper, the shadow home secretary for the Labour Party, stated that the annual expense of housing asylum seekers in hotels had nearly tripled to £3 billion since Rishi Sunak pledged to end hotel use. This increase amounted to 10,000.

She stated that the British public is once again bearing the bill for the Conservatives’ anarchy.

Population Growth and Expert Opinions

Midway through 2022, the estimated population of England and Wales was 60.2 million, representing a 1% increase, or approximately 578,000 individuals.

Neil Park of the ONS stated, “Unlike the baby boom, which drove population growth in the 1960s, international migration is the primary driver of the increases in our most recent estimates.”

He stated that the situation differed by region, with London experiencing the slowest growth and the north of England the fastest.

Prof. Brian Bell stated, “In comparison to historical trends, net migration in the United Kingdom is extremely high,” adding, “However, there are likely indications that it is beginning to decline.” Although I would not risk my house on it, all the signs point to the fact that we have already attained our peak.”

As a means to reduce net migration, he suggested that the government elevate the salary thresholds associated with the skilled worker route, which have remained unchanged for several years.

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