Net migration fell by 84,000 in 2016, according to National Statistics Office (ONS) figures

Caitlin Morrison
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Emigration from the UK increased last year (Source: Getty)

Net migration to the UK was 248,000 last year - down 84,000 from 2015, according to figures from the National Statistics Office (ONS).

The ONS said the change was driven by a "statistically significant" increase in emigration, which was up 40,000 from 2015, and mainly comprised EU citizens (117,000, up 31,000 from 2015) and a decrease of 43,000 in immigration.

The estimated number of non-British citizens going home to live increased from 29,000 to 52,000 in 2016. This was largely driven by the number of EU citizens returning to their home countries, which rose by 21,000 to 43,000. Around half of these emigrants were EU8 citizens - people from Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Slovakia, Hungary, Slovenia and the Czech Republic.

Work remained the most common reason for international migration, with 275,000 people immigrating to work in 2016 - this was down 33,000 compared with 2015.

The majority of people had a definite job, and the number of people who immigrated looking for work fell by 35,000 to 95,000 last year.

The Tories are targetting net migration in the tens of thousands, so today's figures fall far short of that aim. However, business groups have previously called on the Prime Minister to drop this target.

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