Immigration numbers likely to be higher than predicted

April 05, 2005

Government attempts to play down the scale of immigration into the UK by suggesting that the measures they have put in place will cause numbers to fall have been examined in a new study out today which shows that the opposite is more likely to be the case. (Read Report)

The Government’s own figures show that immigration will add five million – the equivalent of five times the population of Birmingham – to the population of England by 2031;one result of which will be to require 59,000 new homes to be built in England each year for the next 17 years for immigrants.

‘The government now recognise that there is mounting public concern at the impact of the highest immigration levels in British history and are starting to downplay their own official population projections,’ said Sir Andrew Green, Chairman of Migrationwatch.

On the Today Programme on 22 March, the Minister for Immigration claimed that he did not expect the levels projected by government statisticians to be reached. Other proponents of immigration talk vaguely to the effect that numbers can fall as well as rise. The Migrationwatch paper examines the robustness of the official projection, looking in detail at the three principal long-term migration streams – asylum, family formation/reunion and work-related migration.

Asylum numbers are down 60% from their peak but this is counterbalanced by other forms of immigration resulting in an increase of 300% in total net immigration since1997.

The five million official projection is based on an assumption that net migration will average 130,000 a year. But in the most recent six years (up to 2003) for which there is data, it has averaged 157,000 a year.

In addition neither the actual figures nor the Government Actuary’s assumption allows for illegal immigration – the level of which is not known but which the government thinks runs into a total of several hundred thousands. Approximately 50,000 people a year are detected attempting to enter Britain illegally. Nobody knows how many succeed.

Nor is any account taken of future immigration from the new Eastern European members of the EU.

‘The conclusion is very clear. There is very little prospect of the numbers declining from the present massive levels in the foreseeable future. Indeed, the numbers are more likely to be higher rather than lower. This should be no surprise. The government have consistently underestimated the scale of immigration and have attacked those who challenge them. The public have now woken up to this which is why poll after poll shows that 75% of those polled no longer believe the government on immigration,’ said Sir Andrew.

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