May 12, 2003The latest population projections issued by the Office for National Statistics (Population Trends No 111) seriously underestimates the potential impact of asylum seekers on our society.
The migration assumptions include only asylum seekers "allowed to remain" which is taken as 30,000 (less than the five-year average of about 40,000).
A more realistic approach would be to take a five-year average of asylum seekers (including dependants) who made a claim and to subtract those who have been removed or have made a voluntary departure. This calculation gives an average of nearly 80,000 per year over the last five years.
The rejected asylum claimants who are in the majority and who stay on illegally do not, it seems, officially exist in the projections. This is very hard to justify, especially when the official estimates of annual net migration, made by the same official body, do include the majority of asylum claimants each year.
The effect of a more realistic assumption is very significant. The latest official projections assume net immigration of 70,000 a year plus 30,000 asylum seekers who are allowed to stay - a total of 100,000. Taking all asylum seekers who stay, whether officially permitted to do so or not (about 80,000), brings net immigration to 150,000.
If this proves to be a more accurate assumption, the effect on our population would be to increase it to about the level of the ONS high migration variant - that is by nearly six million instead of by 4.3 million by 2026 and the proportion due to immigration would be about 70%, rather than 60%. (Population Trends 111, figure 6)
It is not, of course, possible to say now which assumption is correct. But it is certainly true, that unless effective measures are taken, present levels of asylum seeking are likely to continue (and even increase) with a major impact on our society.
Commenting, Sir Andrew Green, Chairman of MigrationwatchUK, said: This is potentially very significant. The issue is the large number of failed asylum seekers who remain in Britain. They, but not their dependants, are included in the annual immigration figures but they seem to have been omitted from the forward population projections. They should not be brushed out of sight by a technical assumption that falls well short of present realities.