Net migration from the EU may have been undercounted by 50,000 a year. It may now be greater than the rest of world taken together

April 27, 2016

Net migration from the EU may have been significantly undercounted. That is the conclusion of new analysis published by Migration Watch today.

The analysis was prompted by the large and continuing discrepancy between the number of National Insurance Numbers (NINOs) issued to Eastern Europeans and the official immigration figures.

A NINO is required to work legally or to draw benefits. Acquiring a NINO involves a visit to a job centre and a short interview so there is no doubt that the applicants have arrived in Britain. The question, therefore, is whether they stay for a year or more, in which case they count as immigrants. Some will depart after only a few months but, even allowing for such short term visits, there is still a large unexplained gap. This suggests that there has been an undercount in the official immigration figures.

The analysis then compares the increase in the official figures for the population of migrants born in Eastern Europe (EU8) and living in the UK with the official immigration figures. It finds that, over the last five years, this population increased by 50,000 a year more than the net migration figures. There could also be higher immigration from Romania and Bulgaria.

If EU net migration is indeed 50,000 higher than the official figures it would bring it to 220,000 and make it the largest source of migration to the UK (the latest official figure for EU net migration is 172,000 while the official non-EU net migration figure is 191,000 for the year ending September 2015). This adjustment would mean that, allowing for British emigration of 40,000, total net migration is currently running at about 375,000.

Commenting, Lord Green of Deddington, Chairman of Migration Watch UK said:

This analysis casts serious doubt on the accuracy of our immigration figures. The ONS have recognised that they undercounted EU8 migration between 2004 and 2010. It now seems very likely that the undercounting of EU migration has continued and, therefore, that immigration from the EU is now greater than that from the rest of the world taken together.

To read the full paper, click here

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