69,000 fall in immigration poses threat to UK's fiscal position

The latest quarterly migration statistics report shows a marked decrease in immigration, falling by 69,000 to 497,000 in the year ending December 2012 (release).

Study became the most common reason for migrating to UK in 2009, overtaking work related reasons. Just 180,000 arrived for formal study last year, as foreign student numbers continue the decline that began in the year ending September 2011.

The decline in those arriving for work related reasons is more troubling. In the year ended December 2012, just 179,000 immigrants came to the UK for work related reasons, versus 184,000 in the previous year.

As politicians struggle to reduce the UK's fiscal imbalance, immigration is an obvious economic win in this regard. Immigrants, who tend to be young adults, demand far less from state education, health and pensions services, while contributing to the Treasury's coffers via taxation.

In June the OECD said that contrary to popular belief, immigration is a great boon to the public purse:

The so-called net fiscal impact of immigrants was the equivalent of 0.46 per cent of GDP – billions of pounds – on average from 2007-09, the report found.

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On a brighter note, emigration is also down, by 30,000 to 321,000, which may imply that people are more optimistic about their prospects in the UK. 181,000 of that number migrated from the UK for work reasons, down from 201,000 in the previous year.