Figures released yesterday by the Office of National Statistics, reveal that net migration to the UK increased in the year to December 2012.
According to the latest data, net migration rose to 176,000 in this period, up from the 153,000 recorded in the 12 months to September 2012.
However, the number of immigrants arriving to live in the UK actually dropped in this 12-month period, from 566,000 to 497,000. Instead the net migration increase was driven by far fewer people leaving the country. The number of migrants leaving Britain fell from 351,000 to 321,000 in the year to December 2012, the ONS found.
The figures will come as a slight blow to the UK’s coalition government who have pledged to get net migration down to below 100,000 people by 2015.
“We are committed to bringing net migration down from the hundreds of thousands to the tens of thousands,” said Mark Harper, the UK’s Immigration Minister. “We are working across government to protect public services and ensure our welfare system is not open to abuse.”
Harper was also keen to point out that net migration is still down by a third since its peak in 2010.
The new figures show that 97,000 immigrants from New Commonwealth countries came to the UK in the year ending December 2012, compared to 151,000 in the previous year. This drop is understood to be the result of fewer people arriving to study in the UK from those countries following tightened student visa rules.
What’s more, only, 58,000 immigrants arrived from countries which joined the EU in 2004, including Poland, down from 77,000 the previous year.