According to new statistics, net migration in the UK has fallen to the lowest level in three years.
Migration has fallen by a quarter to 246,000 in a year as EU citizens are leaving Britain ahead of Brexit. The Office for National Statistics (ONS) has also found that the number of people who are arriving to live in the UK is 81,000 less than last year.
“We have seen a fall in net migration driven by an increase in emigration, mainly for EU citizens and in particular EU8 citizens, and a decrease in immigration across all groups,” said Nicola White, the head of international migration statistics at the ONS.
“International migration for work remains the most common reason for migration with people becoming increasingly likely to move to the UK or overseas only with a definite job than to move looking for work.
“These results are similar to 2016 estimates and indicate that the EU referendum result may be influencing people’s decision to migrate into and out of the UK, particularly EU and EU8 citizens. It is too early to tell if this is an indication of a long-term trend.”
The figures found that there was a particularly sharp rise of citizens from the EU8 countries – Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Slovakia and Slovenia – leaving the UK.
“No one should celebrate these numbers,” said a spokesman for the Institute of Directors.
“Given unemployment is currently at its lowest level ever (4.5 percent), without the three million EU citizens living here the UK would have an acute labour shortage.
“Signs that it is becoming a less attractive place to live and work are a concern,” he added.
16,211 people were granted asylum, resettlement or other protection in 12 months to June.
The government hopes to reduce net migration to below 100,000.
“The fall in net migration figures will be a relief for the Government,” said Tijen Ahmet, legal director and immigration law specialist at Shakespeare Martineau.
“With employment being the main driver for EU workers coming to the UK, the lack of commitment from the government to secure the rights of EU citizens could be causing them to think twice about coming at the present time.
“In the case of non-EU nationals, the introduction of the skills levy in April 2017 has meant businesses are more reluctant to sponsor skilled workers from outside of the UK/EU given the significant costs involved – £1,000 per year. This drop-off is particularly evident in the hospitality sector, where profit margins are particularly tight. If this levy is extended to EU nationals post-Brexit, this could have a devastating impact on the sector; leading to a spike in business failures.”