Responses to comments from the Independent and the Home Office

November 17, 2003

Following comments (1) in the Independent newspaper and (2) from the Home Office regarding the accuracy of statistics published by Migrationwatch the organisation has responded as follows.

1. Response to the Independent: November 17, 2003

The Independent sought to contrast three statements by Migrationwatch and the Home Office.  

The following is an analysis:

1. The MW statement quoted referred to asylum seekers over a six year period. The Home Office statement referred only to a comparison between 2002 and 2001

VERDICT:    Both statements correct

The MW statement was about net non-EU immigration. The Home Office statement was about asylum applications.

VERDICT:   This is to compare apples and oranges but both
statements are correct.

3. The MW statement says that 63% of 356,200 applicants were refused in the period 1989-99.   The Home Office says the total was 226,400.   This IS 63% of 356,200.  MW estimates that only 25% of those refused left the country.  The Home Office do not give their own figure for this.

VERDICT:   Both statements correct (indeed identical)

2. Response to Home Office

The Home office criticisms are in black and the MW response is in Red   As the responses indicate, very little of the Home Office critique can be sustained.    

MigrationWatch: Immigration at least 200,000 per year or 2 million every
10 years. It has trebled since 1997

Home Office: Immigration not 3 times higher. Net migration is estimated at 153,000 in 2002 not 200,000 [Office of National Statistics]. Long-term net migration actually estimated at 130,000 a year, only 0.2% of the population [Government Actuary's Department].
Net migration in 1997 was 46.8k according to the ONS (International Migration estimates 2002 13.11.03) and increased to 153.4k net in
2002 or 3.28x its 1997 level. These figures do not include any allowance for illegal migration which we have conservatively estimated at 50,000
per annum.

MigrationWatch: 103,000 people applied for asylum in 2002 about the size of the British Army

Home Office: Since then Government policies resulted drastically reduced applications from 8,770 in October last year to 3,610 in June
this year.
Our figures for 2002 are correct. The 8,770 figure was, however, the highest figure on record and was inflated by people claiming asylum before the rules regarding benefits for in-country applicants were revised. 3,610 annualised is 43,320 and this excludes dependants, is still 33% higher than in 1997 (32,500 excluding dependants)

MigrationWatch: On average over the last 6 years, only 20% of applicants
have been granted asylum, including those granted on appeal. A further 20% have been granted permission to stay. Of the remaining 60%, only 13% have been removed.

Home Office: Dispute the method of calculation which is simplistic and
does not reflect those in the process still to receive outcomes.  Record
numbers of failed asylum seekers are being removed - provisional Home Office figures indicate at a rate of 1,500 a month.
It is difficult to accurately calculate removal rates. Our figures are calculated over quite a long period 1997-2002 so the effect of outstanding decisions should not be large. The number of failed asylum seekers removed has risen slightly over the last few quarters but as a percentage of those whose asylum claims have failed the removal rate remains very low.The recent increase  in the removal rate should be set against a background of 1) an ever increasing pool of asylum seekers whose claims had failed but who were still in the UK and 2) record levels of appeals being completed allowing many more claims to be finalised and 3) evidence that figures for Q4 2002 and Q1 2003 had been inflated by concentrating on EU accession countries - removals to these countries increased by about 50% in these quarters compared to Q3 2002. We await further data on Q2 2003 with interest.

MigrationWatch: Government has set a target of 200,000 work
permits in 2003.

Home Office: The Government does not set targets for work permits. Work permits are demand led by employers for specific vacancies they must demonstrate they cannot fill with a domestic worker.  We currently expect to issue 175,000 permits this year.
The government set a figure for budgetary purposes which was 200,000. Some vacancies do not need to pass the resident workers test.

MigrationWatch: After four years, a work permit holder can apply for settlement and, in the past, 95% have been granted.

Home Office: No evidence of this. MigrationWatch appear to be erroneously using the 95% success rate for applications for work permits
Yes there is data on this in the control of immigration stats (eg table 5.2 in 2000 stats. - show applications for extensions and settlement - percentage refused in 1997 - 2000 was 5.2%, 4.5%,5.3% and 3.1% respectively. (This does include extensions as well as settlement but the 5% figure is going to be there or thereabouts).

MigrationWatch: 75% of migrants come to London and the South East.

Home Office: This is not a figure that we recognise.
This is from the ONS Total International Migration 1992-2001 - area of destination or origin in the UK net figures which show that of the net migration in the period 1996-2001 67% were to London and 10% to the South East. See following table for actual nos.

London South East London/South-East England %

1996 + 54.6 - 9.5 + 45.1 60.9 74.06%
1997 + 45.5 - 0.5 + 45.0 60 75.00%
1998 + 86.7 + 26.3 + 113.0 144.6 78.15%
1999 + 113.3 + 28.6 + 141.9 153.9 92.20%
2000 + 120.4 - 0.1 + 120.3 169.3 71.06%
2001 + 104.4 + 15.1 + 119.5 172.5 69.28%

1996-2001 + 524.9 + 59.9 + 584.8 + 761.2 76.83%

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