Net migration to UK sinks to eight-year low

Ben Southwood
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NET migration into the UK fell to its lowest total for almost eight years in the year to March 2012, data out yesterday revealed.

In the year to March, 536,000 people came from abroad to live in the UK, according to estimates from the Office for National Statistics, down 42,000 on the year before, and the lowest figure since the year to June 2004. Combined with a bump in emigration, which hit 353,000 in the year to March compared to 336,000 a year earlier, net migration collapsed from 242,000 to 183,000, closing in on the government’s goal of below 100,000.

The fall appears to have continued into recent months – excluding visitor and transit visas, 85,940 fewer visas were issued in the year to September than in the previous 12 months. A large contributor to the figures was student visa issuance, which collapsed 26 per cent in just a year, while work-related visas fell by just four per cent.

The government hailed the data as evidence its policies were succeeding in reducing immigration, but the Institute of Directors warned that cutting off the flow of global talent could harm the UK’s growth prospects.