UK immigration: Numbers of Romania and Bulgaria coming to the UK soar - but 87 per cent come for "work-related reasons"

 
Catherine Neilan
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Passport control at Gatwick Airport
There was a "statistically significant" increase in the number of EU2 migrants - but the vast majority are coming for work (Source: Getty)

The UK's net migration risen 31,000 between 2014 and 2015, official figures show - but it's more down to fewer people leaving the country than a jump in the number of people coming here.

Between September 2014 and 2015, the number of long-term immigrants rose 2,000 to 617,000 - which the ONS said was "not statistically significant". At the same time, the number of people emigrating from the UK fell 29,000 to 294,000.

That means net migration stood at 323,00 for the year.

The number of EU immigrants grew year on year, from 246,000 to 257,000.

"While this was not statistically significant, there was a statistically significant increase in immigration of EU2 citizens [Romania and Bulgaria] to 55,000 in the year ending September 2015 (up 15,000)," the ONS said, adding grist to Brexiters' mills.

"Conversely, immigration of non-EU citizens saw a decrease from 289,000 to 273,000 (not statistically significant)."

Of all EU2 citizens who came to the UK, 45,000 (87 per cent) came for work-related reasons, the ONS said - a statistically significant increase of 18,000 from the previous year.

Around two-thirds (28,000) arrived with a definite job to go to, almost double the number seen in 2014.

In total, 290,000 people migrated to the UK for work, 59 per cent of whom had a definite job.

Seamus Nevin, head of employment and skills policy at the Institute of Directors, said the figures showed why a net migration target "makes absolutely no sense".

"The government’s attempts to hit its arbitrary target are reliant not just on reducing the numbers arriving here but on increasing the number of people leaving this country as well," he explained. “Ironically, if the UK economy tanked and Britons emigrated in large numbers it would make the target more achievable."

Nevin noted that the figures would "undoubtedly get caught up in the public debate about the EU referendum, yet neither the ‘Remain’ or ‘Leave’ campaigns are being straight with the voters".

Indeed, Ukip leader Nigel Farage was quick to jump on the figures

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