THE NUMBER of people leaving the UK to live in other countries has reached the lowest level in over a decade, driving increases in net migration upward again.
The rise in net migration had slowed since 2011, but rose in the year to the end of June, up by 182,000. In the year to the end of 2012, it rose by only 177,000.
The increase is still substantially lower than it was in 2007, when net migration reached 233,000, the highest level in modern history.
In the 12 months to the end of the second quarter, only 320,000 people emigrated from the UK, the lowest level since 2001.
For the first time since 2009, the most common reason for immigrants to move to the UK is to find work. In recent years, a larger number of people have moved to the country to study than to work..
In 2012, for the first time in the UK’s history, China became the most common last country of residence for people moving to the UK. An estimated 40,000 people migrated from China, surpassing India’s 37,000.
In the same year, Australia held its spot as the most popular destination for people leaving the UK, with 48,000 people heading down under. The US was way behind, accepting 19,000 migrants from the UK.
The figures come ahead of January’s impending change to freedom of movement in the EU. Romanian and Bulgarian citizens, whose countries joined the single market in 2007, will have transitional controls on their movement lifted, and be able to move to the UK.
Earlier this week, Prime Minister David Cameron promised that a number of new restraints will be placed on the ability of migrants from the European Union to claim out-of-work benefits in the UK.
Before the 2010 General Election, Cameron committed the Conservative party to reducing net migration to tens of thousands of people per year.