Just as Prime Minister David Cameron outlined his stance on tackling immigration, figures were published showing net long-term migration to the UK last year rose to the highest level in nearly a decade, reaching an estimated 318,000 over the 12 months.
In total 641,000 people immigrated to the UK, up from 526,000 the previous year, according to the ONS.
Increases came from both EU citizens, up a third to 268,000 and non-EU citizens, up nearly 17 per cent to 290,000.
Within the EU group, the number of Romanian and Bulgarian immigrants doubled from 23,000 in 2013 to 46,000 in 2014 – the first full year since the EU2 working restrictions ended. Of that number 35,000 came for work.
In total, just over 44 per cent of immigrants came to the UK to work, while 30 per cent came to study. Just over 25,000 people came to the UK seeking asylum, largely from Eritrea, Pakistan and Syria.
Meanwhile an estimated 323,000 people emigrated from the UK in 2014. Overall emigration levels have been relatively stable since 2010.
The figures suggest a sharp rise from 2013, when the net number of people coming to the UK stood at 209,000. It was just below a peak of 320,000 reached in June 2005.
Latest employment statistics show estimated employment of EU nationals (excluding British) living in the UK was 283,000 higher in January to March 2015 compared with a year earlier and non-EU nationals in employment increased by 11,000.
Over the same period, British nationals in employment also increased, by 279,000.