Immigration cap fails to reduce numbers coming to UK

By Ian Dunt

The immigration cap appears to have had no effect on the number of people coming to the UK, with a 20% rise over the last year.

Officials figures showed net immigration jumped to 239,000, although a reduction in the number of Brits leaving the country contributed to the figures.

"These figures reveal the gulf between the government's rhetoric on immigration, and the reality we see in the official figures," said Shabana Mahmood, shadow Home Office minister.

"The government is not being honest with the British public. They have shown a keen interest in hyperbole around immigration, doing everything they can to make it a party political issue, but they are busy further eroding trust in government's ability to manage it."

The government intends to cut annual net immigration down to "the tens of thousands" by 2015 and tried to achieve this by limiting skilled workers from outside the EU.

This appears to have had little effect, with employers mostly taking the workers needed from inside the EU and immigration to the UK remaining fairly steady.

Emigration, however, has fallen – down over 20% since 2008.

A sluggish world economy seems to have discouraged Brits from leaving to find work elsewhere.

Immigration from eastern Europe was up from 52,000 to 71,000, in a sign that employers were forced to find skilled workers from inside the EU to fill job vacancies.

Meanwhile the number of eastern Europeans emigrating back home was down from 47,000 to 31,000.

While many eastern Europeans returned to their home countries when the recession first hit Britain, that trend appears to have calmed down.

The government's focus on student migration also appears to have had little effect, with a reduction of just one per cent since last year.