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London First warns on net migration figures

Net migration figures published by the Office for National Statistics show an increase to 330,000 in the year to March, the highest on record.

This included an increase for EU citizens to 269,000 (up 56,000) and an increase for non-EU nationals to 284,000 (up 23,000).

Responding to the statistics, Mark Hilton, Director of Immigration Policy at London First, said:

“The government mustn’t use this record figure as another excuse to limit the sort of positive immigration that grows our economy.

“Our world-beating industries need access to talent and skills from around the world in order to remain global leaders. But they are struggling to bring in the talent we lack because they’re hitting government limits for skilled workers.

“We need to make strategic decisions on immigration, not knee-jerk ones that fail to take account of the needs of the economy.”

Economic growth

London First believes the government’s attempts to clamp down on immigration pose a genuine threat to the competitiveness of both the capital and the UK.

This is a growing concern as the economy picks up – reflected by the monthly skilled migrant quota (so-called Tier 2 visas) being hit for the first time in May.

The Government is right to be concerned about migration – politicians reflect the views of the voters, and immigration undoubtedly is an issue of public concern.

These concerns, aggravated by the recession, have predominantly focused on concerns about job competition, wage pressures, and the perceived social costs of immigration.

However, the high level of public confusion over the different types of immigration has muddied the debate.  Furthermore, whilst the net migration target encompasses EU migration, emigration and non-EU migration, there is no credible solution to reduce intra-EU migration, the low skilled end of which is what the public are really concerned about, and there is little that can be done about emigration.

The Government’s only option is to reduce Non-EU immigration.  These are often the high value people needed by business, and the majority are international students recruited by our world leading education sector.

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