Why high net migration is going to continue
A city the size of Glasgow was added to the population last year
Yesterday, the Office for National Statistics published its latest estimates of long-term migration to and from the UK. Net migration for the year ending December 2022 — the figure everyone was waiting for — came in somewhat lower than expected. The Centre for Policy Studies had forecast that “net migration could hit between 700,000 and 997,000”. Yet the published figure is 606,000.
Although this is almost 100,000 less than expected, it’s still extremely high by historical standards. To see just how high, I’ve combined the ONS’s latest estimates with older data published by the House of Commons Library.
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It’s important to note that the ONS’s methodology changed in 2020 and was revised again for yesterday’s release. For example, the latest estimates include asylum applications but excludes EU migrants who do not satisfy the definition of a long-term migrant. They are given by the dashed line above.
In the two years of overlap, the new methodology yielded a higher estimate in one year, while the old methodology yielded a higher estimate in the other. So while we should be cautious about comparing estimates based on different methodologies, those produced by the new methodology don’t seem to be consistently higher.
In any case, the chart indicates that net migration was substantially higher last year than in any previous year since 1991 (and last year’s figure was also a record-breaker).
To get an even longer-term perspective, I’ve combined the ONS’s latest estimates with decadal estimates going all the way back to 1901. As the House of Commons Library explains, these estimates were calculated as “the difference between two subsequent census populations that is not attributed to recorded births or deaths”.
In the chart above, the bar corresponding to the decade beginning 2021 is based on only two years of data, whereas all the others are based on 10 years of data. It should therefore be interpreted as an indication not of what will happen, but of what would happen if the average net migration rate over the last two years prevailed for the rest of the decade.
What’s clear, once again, is that recent net migration is historically unprecedented. While the 2010s saw a city the size of Swansea added to the population each year, the last two years have seen a city the size of Sheffield added to the population each year. And in just the last year, a city the size of Glasgow has been added.
Now, there are reasons why the last two years’ figures are particularly high: there was a post-pandemic rebound, and the UK resettled large numbers of people from Hong Kong and Ukraine (which may not happen again in the near future).
However, these two factors can only explain about half the difference between the last two bars on the chart above. Compared to 2019, the number of non-EU migrants entering the UK for work has increased by 136,000, while the number of non-EU migrants leaving in this category has increased by only 6,000. And a similar pattern holds for non-EU students.
This suggests that when 2023’s figure comes in, it’s likely to be lower than 606,000 — though still higher than the pre-pandemic norm of 200–300,000. So unless there’s a drastic shift in policy, very high net migration is going to continue.
They know damn well the vast majority of people in the country don’t want this and they go ahead and do it anyway.
And we pay them to do it.
It is called levelling down.
And we are not their only paymasters, are we? Consider the links with communist China, the scandal of Johnson’s plans for 5G, Beijing’s links with British universities, the growing influence of Marxism in every area of national life and the interconnected deep state which imposes the agenda at a supranational level. Then consider the unreason of current immigration policy, the clogged roads, unavailable healthcare and newly polyglot schools. There may be no “Dr Evil” manipulating things in a Swiss basement, but there is undoubtedly a grand scale “trahison des clercs” among the “elite” of the western world.
Consider Sunak’s links with India, especially with his father in laws Infosys business.
During his time as Chancellor he pushed through the new IR35 laws into the private sector. When Truss revoked those as PM, he immediately reimposed them when he succeeded her. These make the hiring of contractors much more difficult and the most obvious winners are Indian IT service companies such as TCS and you guessed it Infosys.
The new immigration points system which he refuses to make stricter means its much easier to import Indian devs.
The press make a big song and dance about his wife’s non-dom status, in reality the real scandal lies elsewhere.
Interesting points, of course – although where named, individual cases are concerned one has to exercise discretion. As for the IR35 business, it may be explained as one element in the sustained attempt to squash small business – itself part of a larger elite programme of total social and economic control. This certainly fits in with hard left ambitions and is naturally explicable as part of the overall “trahison des clercs“.
It’s the law of “reversion to the mean”. Immigrants will enter the UK until UK living standards are reduced to those of their home countries.
Thats a long way to fall, and you might be right Will
So excessive immigration will continue until the living standards of the UK and Chad are equal
Hardly any net immigration in the 1950s – 1970s, yet that was the Windrush era when immigration from the Caribbean and India and Pakistan began the demographic transformation of many British cities. What we are seeing now is of an order of magnitude larger than that. And Britain was building more houses in that era also.
This suggests that when 2023’s figure comes in, it’s likely to be lower than 606,000 — though still higher than the pre-pandemic norm of 200–300,000
My biggest concern isn’t that things will continue to get worse, though they may, but that we’ll come to accept the ‘pre-pandemic norm’ and slide back into managed decline, wondering why our incomes keep stagnating, our house prices keep inflating, and our living standards keep falling..
And herein lies the crux – the failure of the Brexit bunch to find a voter friendly/business friendly plan for GB.
Hence we get lose/lose as a Brexit dividend. Blinkin brilliant.
Welcome to the southern “border” of the United States. The political elites WANT open borders. And, they are elected by the people. Go figure.
But who can you vote for?
All main parties in uk want mass immigration for various reasons.
So the only option to show opposition would be to boycot elections.
The trailed number of one million was put about so that 600,000 would not seem so bad. The government maxed out on immigration in the last year in the hope that it might cause an increase in GDP this year. (The UK economy excels in creating junk jobs.) Then the government will bring the numbers down a bit in preparation for the 2024 election.
Let’s bite the bullet with some honesty, that C…tservatives have made a hate crime- We love and respect, as well as thank so many immigrants from Poland, Slovakia, Czech Republic, other eastern european countries, India , and China… who are NOT the same as many from Africa and Islamic countries, who are the main cause of the issues felt by voters… but we are not allowed to discuss this?!
If they want any chance of winning the next election the government must do the following by the time of the vote:
Stop the boats
Limit net immigration to 150k per annum
Have inflation at below 4%
Why would you even want them to win the next election
If you want things to change will will have to vote for something very different
Who do you suggest D? SDP?
I live in Ireland, I don’t think I will vote in the next election, I can’t see any party with a sane immigration policy, I think the UK is the same, you don’t have to vote, you can spoil you vote and tell politicians on your door step your opinion, if enough people do it they might listen
no, army coup.
Trouble is MM your 2nd and 3rd objectives butt against each other, short term at least. Shrinking the workforce not going to help inflation at the moment. And who’s going to believe a Tory promise at this point on the net immigration future number?
I actually think the thing most pernicious is the backlog of asylum seeker applications housed all around the country – c170k backlog. If that sorted I think alot of communities would feel much better. These aren’t even in the 600k legal number as we know.
Shrinking the work force would increase wage inflation but decrease demand so would probably balance out. Also reducing immigration wouldn’t necessarily shrink the workforce as much as slow its growth.
How does shrinking the workforce shrink demand for social care TC as just one example? If you look at the age demographics of migrants they are younger and pull on less public services, esp social care. Now it’s not they pull on ‘no’ public services, it’s just alot less because that’s always the case with a younger demographic, esp if trained/educated elsewhere too.
The added issue we have that will make some significant immigration inevitable is our aging population, shrinking tax base and insufficient workers. It can be less than now though and much better managed. That’s where we need to get to as national discussion
You make some valid points but mass immigration is not long term solution.
For a start most of migrants are low IQ from cultures alien to Europe.
Most of them end up on benefits or in jobs which do not pay enough in taxes to cover cost of services they require.
Then they will all grow old and your solution is what?
More mass immigration from sh*t countries?
What about technology changes?
All of Uber drivers etc will be unemployed within next 10 to 15 years because of AI.
Then what about social changes. Countries these immigrants come from are sh*t because of people in them.
Why do you think this country will not end up like their countries when they become majority?
migration? NO!! its immigration!
606,000, including 88,000 British nationals. So 518,000. One one-hundred-and-thirty-sixth of the population. What a deluge. Rishi Sunak is still refusing to set even the vaguest target for net migration, meaning that there is none. Britain is the only country with a formal government policy of unlimited immigration. We are fully in control of our borders, and this is what we choose to do with that control.
Why would any Conservative Leader take a different view? Labour does not know where to begin on immigration, but far more people are swinging between the Conservatives and either the Liberal Democrats or the Greens than would consider voting for anything expressly to the Conservatives’ right. What matters is to ensure that everyone is in the union, and that it does what it is supposed to do. If it had still been a matter of “no union card, no job”, then none of this would ever have been possible. But here we are.
They get shouty about immigration at London conferences of visiting Americans and Israelis who fancied Britain as their laboratory, as the international Right always does. They pretend to care about it in the pages that were produced by certain highly international newsrooms, not all of them British-owned. But the latter will hold the line only as long as their advertisers wanted them to, which will not be very much longer at all. The same people bankroll the Conservative Party, and they are getting what they pay for, because they always do. If you really wanted Britain to have more religion in general or more Christianity in particular, then you would want vastly more immigration.
Still, this was Suella Braverman’s chosen ground, so, as two of the last three Home Secretaries, she should be sacked. Again. Someone has to prevent the Home Secretaryship from falling into the hands of Yvette Copper, the Wicked Witch of the Work Capability Assessment, who has already murdered hundreds of thousands of people before she had control of Police who could not now be criminally liable for anything.
Typical UnHerd series of ‘half-engaged’ comments generated by this Article. It’s still early no doubt on this stream but yet to see one thoughtful policy suggestion on what might reduce the flow. Just a series largely mindless rants.
So we’ve c200k work visas – lots in care sector and we are still running short in this and many other areas. It’s also a driver of our wage-push inflation, so even if you just want that sorted we’ve a workforce issue here. And by the way Care sector ain’t solving it’s problem until they can pay same as Aldi, and currently that’s c£5 an hour less! So what suggestions Commentariat got? And where have been the policy responses last 13 years to avoid this? Anyone seen a national training and wage plan for these shortage areas?
Then another 150k study visas – £42B into the sector p.a and alot of related soft power from having folks all over the World who studied here. Now I agree probably some come for malign reasons and we need to deport them if they out-stay the visa. But answers please to the funding drop if we massively clamp down?
There are some one-offs – Ukraine, Hong-Kong. I doubt many arguing too much about these. Asylum seekers – backlog at c170k – a bit of processing competency wouldn’t go amiss.
And given Govt agreed all bar the asylum seeker number anyone seen the corresponding policy on housing, health services, schools? Or drowned out by divisive rhetoric from the Right looking to shift the blame?
Just to be constructive, I think if we had a functioning border and immigration system, we could have more flexibility to bring in short term labour, seasonal workers who come and go, and will have to go if required; meanwhile we have strategies to fix longer term needs or to improve productivity. It still seems wrong to strip poorer countries of their trained healthcare workers to come to this country because we do not want to invest in training people who would willingly do the same work. A functioning policy would allow for gradual managed growth as well.
Very much agree MT
We are an island.. we do not have borders!
10K employed by UK Border Force and seeking to expand in readiness for all the added Brexit B/S paperwork at Dover et al.
Now at last an idea from yourself – as we have no Borders are you suggesting we scrap the lot? Genius
As mentioned previously the majority of these problems originated from New Labour’s mass immigration programme from the late ’90s. Low skill, low wage part-time service work. Why pay them a decent wages, just keep on importing more people and keep interest rates low, that will only benefit the asset rich (property speculators).
After 25 years of mass immigration with an increase of 7 million… sorry 8 million people there is still a shortage of doctors, nurses, care workers, dentists, builders etc. Perhaps you’d like to explain what the actual benefits are? Falling productivity, lower GDP per head, an x8 house price to earnings ratio. A nature deplenished country that has lost 50% of its biodiversity in 50 years.
A univerisity’s business model seems to built entirely on bringing in foreign students and not training school leavers for apprenticeships.
You offer no solutions yourself just platitudes. Do you think importing a population the equivalent of say Swansea, Sheffield or Glasgow is sustainable year on year?
Fairly standard ‘blame the immigrants’ attack line from you AR. Your lot been in power. Where’s the plan? Did you speak up when they talked at same of tax cuts and cutting public spending without a national training and education plan to wean us off migrant reliance? I suspect not. You’ll have wanted the tax cuts and smaller Govt too and just hoped some miracle solved the workforce problems.
I did though give you help with my first comment on what needs to be done – proper training plans for shortage areas and uplift in wages (in the Care sector that’ll require we fund social care to a higher level and need to get back to things like the Dilnot rpt on how we do that). Honest conversation with public that is going to cost and take some time. Instead Tories/Right Wing wanted to face both ways and just use the scaremongering to advantage. Trouble is you run out of road eventually.
There is absolutely nothing in my comment blaming immigrants, it’s just your tiresome rhetoric, dishonesty and projection. My “lot’ aren’t in power and importing more people isn’t going to raise wages or encourage firms to train people. It will go on to decrease living standards and destroy the environment.
You like “honest” conversations, let’s have an honest conversation about that.
Sounds like your policy response is just stop it and industry will adjust and train more itself – a fairly neo-liberal econ response. I got that right?
If so what would you tell the public about the short term implications, what they have to accept, how long it may take etc? Or would you just not?
This is the thing with your comments – you never get to the mature discussion bit.
“Sounds like youri policy response is just stop it and industry will adjust and train more itself – a fairly neo-liberal econ response. I got that right?”. No, just your projection…. again.
The government can do a lot more create policies and change the culture to reduce the easy fix of mass immigration.
Your whole argument is a circular one and a fallacy, it’s that we can get immigration numbers down but only if we import more immigrants. It’s a nonsense, is that your idea of a mature discussion.
You really need to up your debating skills.
Well said, although your antagonist would be lost without his blinkers. That said, you’ve pushed him sufficiently into a corner to get the admission that your proposals are indeed policy responses (not forms of “blame”!) and that the problems arising would – indeed – be short term. Now we must see if he’ll admit the long term benefits. Good luck!
‘The Govt can do alot more to create policies…’, but you can’t think of or articulate one. Looks like voidance strategy AF. Come on, just one thought through Policy you think might work to reduce supply issue?
That’s not my area of expertise (ie detail) but yes adequate funding to create more opportunities for school leavers in areas where there skill shortages. Honestly this should be a no-brainer, so why have succesive governments not implemented them.
I’d like to think that we can both agree on this.
Yes we do AF.
One reason is it costs and don’t believe we’ll want to pay the taxes for it. Look at Nursing – they cut places and the bursary so we have no choice but to ask for additional visas for migrants to plug gaps. Having already got a political problem with tax hikes they don’t want to add to that. They want the headroom to bribe you with a cut pre-election and hope you don’t notice. Of course it might later pay for itself, but initially it needs investment.
I think also they know certain jobs just aren’t going to attract young people – working in agriculture for example. Braverman saying we need to learn to pick our own fruit fine and good but youngsters can work in a coffee shop, and the older couldn’t or won’t do the back-breaking work. So food doesn’t get picked and we import more whilst also increasing food costs. They don’t want to draw up the dots because once straight with people they look even more stupid.
Industry will adjust and train more, why wouldn’t they. If there is a legitimate labour shortage then low productivity jobs will get pushed out of the market, which is progress.
It may. Or it may relocate. And whatever it’ll take time and add some inflationary pressure for a period too. Nonetheless if the Right were honest about these trade-offs then that would be a start, but it’s not. And most critics here on Unherd of the spike in immigration fail to be honest about these trade offs too.
‘Low skill, low wage part-time service work’ subsidised by tax credits, plus access to scarce social housing (in London, 40% of migrants from Sub-Saharan Africa live in social housing (Migration Observatory Migrants and Housing in the UK 2022) – we’ve basically been importing large numbers of poor people to work in part-time, low paid, tax payer subsidised jobs and live in council houses in one of the most expensive cities in the world for decades.
Typical UnHerd series of ‘half-engaged’ comments generated by this Article. It’s still early no doubt on this stream but yet to see one thoughtful policy suggestion on what might reduce the flow. Just a series largely mindless rants.
In a sense, you are right. People are despairing or are beside themselves with anger. If your loved ones are attacked, injured, or raped by someone, do you immediately formulate a nice moderate policy suggestion that keeps everyone happy? Well, the situation is very much like that. People are tending to avoid “thoughtful” responses because they are beginning to think the unthinkable. Or at least the unpublishable.
Some are SN, but my sense is actually a not insignificant majority now have grasped this was never as straight-forward as led to believe, and nor do most welcome the blaming immigrants rhetoric. I think things are shifting. Cost of living pressures and getting help with social care has an impact on how people view things.
That doesn’t mean anyone happy with the increase in migration, but the choices we face better understood. I think some anger we don’t seem to have a plan going forward is true.
But whilst I think that’s the case for the majority, there will be an element wanting to use this to drive division and fear. They thrive on this.
This is frankly nonsense about division and fear.
I’m absolutely certain that the vast majority of people in this country want a fair and reasonable system which allows necessary immigration. I do not see anything objectionable or unreasonable about that. Nor the idea that it means we need to set limits on the numbers/rate we can realistically absorb. That’s just common sense.
People also object to illegal immigrants being treated better than legal ones (priority access to housing and services). And equally being treated better than UK residents. Quite rightly so. “People” here includes many if not most of the people who have legally emigrated to the UK and now live here – they are also increasingly fed up with the madness.
Nothing in this is in any way about driving “division and fear”. Britain is just about the most tolerant country in Europe towards immigrants. You just seen to be throwing out FUD (fear, uncertainty and doubt) as a reason for taking no action and hiding behind bogus proposals as a smokescreen. The standard operating procedure for the left (not syaing you are – I have no idea – but you’re using the same dishonest methods).
And accusing Andrew Raiment of blaming migrants was bang out of order. He deserves your apology.
Afraid not. Immigrants were blamed for the low skills, low wage economy. They aren’t to blame. In fact AF could have said that immigrants have been helping keep the rest richer than we otherwise would be, but no a negative led.
AF then deflected a bit to New Labour, as ever forgetting that’s a lifetime almost ago. Groan.
And oh yes it is about creating fear. Many know exactly what they are doing. It’s why they don’t really want to fix it or suggest what we really need to do. The dog-whistle playbook.
Even more projection and fallacy, “Dog whistle playbook”, listen to yourself, you’re desperate.
You don’t have an argument so you simply smear people instead.
I’ll have that apology now.
Hi is so desperate that he can’t even remember your name.
AF might be me.
You will keep trying to play the man – making up all this fear stuff – and not the ball !
In fact, I think you are actually the biggest ferarmonger – certainly the prime FUD generator – on this comments thread.
It’s not convincing anyone here.
“a not insignificant majority now have grasped this was never as straight-forward as led to believe”
We were never led to believe anything, were we? I don’t recall any of the governing parties ever asking us if we wanted the biggest population change ever seen on these shores. Nor are many people “blaming immigrants”. Immigrants are going to do what immigrants do, which is immigrate. It’s the politicians who should be in the gunsights. I believe it will become a lot more straightforward when we try to provide power and infrastructure for a new Glasgow-sized city every year, especially when the constraints upon fossil fuels begin to really bite. It will be too late for the British way of life then, but let’s hope we can avoid mass bloodshed.
No need for it to be ‘Glasgow’ each year. Putting the one-offs of Ukraine/Hong Kong to one side, a proper training plan for key labour shortage areas, proper approach to social care funding, a rebalancing of how we fund education sector and some effective administration to ensure temp visas don’t over-stay, coupled with proper processing competency for asylum seeker backlog – and we can reduce this quite significantly. The problem is we don’t seem to have a Govt, or it’s supporters, who actually want to address these issues or even be straight about them.
Yes, I agree. It never had to be Glasgow in any year, but that’s what we got, with no sign of abatement. I suspect the areas of competency which you rightly refer to will not be addressed due to lack of funding. In particular, “asylum” should not mean economic migration, nor should it be allowed if the applicants are already living in a safe place like France. The best remedy for the backlog is deportation.
A problem with some deportation is lack of return agreements. Hence Rwanda option. But actually we are deporting less than we were 13years ago and processing far fewer – hence backlog. To be fair the Boats a relatively new dynamic albeit probably predictable once we saw what was happening in the Med. We just thought the Channel too cold and rough. An expansion of processing capacity takes time too. With labour shortages as it is these jobs have to be fairly attractive and the processes fairly easy.
But regardless of the illegal immigration it’s dwarfed by the Visas Patel/Braverman’s Home office has signed off whilst positioning themselves as strong on immigration
Typically evasive response from one of the beneficiaries of mass immigration.
Good you’ve resurfaced PR. Thought you were so embarrassed by what your lot done here you were keeping your head down.
So tell us – your policy suggestions on reducing the workforce and study visas? Your short term risk assessment and what you’d be straight with the public about as a trade off whilst we wean ourselves off this?
Look forward to continuing the discussion.
I know that you are upset j, but your recourse to childish abuse doesn’t help your case, does it?
You wanted some constructive suggestions for dealing with uncontrolled immigration into the UK:
Ensure that no persons (except genuine asylum seekers) are admitted into the UK if they will need consume state benefits for at least 10 years – including health services. [I looked into the possibility of moving to Australia to join one of our children there last year. Just to enter Australia on a residence permit (that could take up to 10 years to process!) we would have to spend something like £120,000 altogether, including the costs of the actual visas for two. Furthermore, our son would have to put up a bond of AU$16,000 to cover any unforeseen consumption of state services AND we would have to pay for all of our healthcare until such time as we were awarded permanent residence, which could take 10+ years).Summarily reject all applications for permanent resident that do not conform to the above requirements.Accept applications only from persons whose skills are required in the workplace.invest in training and development of manual and other lower grade workers from the British population, using the threat of withholding state benefits if individuals capable of working refuse to do so when jobs are available to match their skills [and tighten up on medical excuses not to work].Immediately deport all illegal immigrants upon arrival or when they are discovered. If necessary send them to Rwanda or wherever.Vigorously prosecute all people convicted of people trafficking or smuggling illegal immigrants into the country, Deport any who have permanent residence or naturalised citizenship following lengthy prison sentences and confiscation of property.Prosecute any individuals or businesses that employ illegal immigrants with punitive sanctions if convicted. People who employ illegal immigrants and who themselves have been given permanent residence and/or naturalised citizenship should have their status removed and face deportation.Government to invest adequately in the effective control of UK borders and general management of illegal immigration within the country.Implement a more vigorous policy of requiring applicants for permanent residence to respect and reflect British values and to ensure better assimilation within society here.Exit UK from the jurisdiction of the European Court of Human Rights and introduce a UK Bill of Rights drafted to preclude its use to frustrate and obfuscate government initiatives to deal with illegal immigration on the basis of ‘human rights’.Etc.!
very high net migration is going to continue.
Yes it is. And as I pointed out on the other article, folks have been in total denial of the problems of the climate crisis and are now wondering why huge numbers of desperate people want to migrate because of famine and conflict. This is just the beginning.
Climate crisis BS
Yeah, all the Albanians and Bulgarians are fleeing wildfires and drought..
This comment is why we don’t really deserve a future. Education, reading The New Scientist, David Attenborough and the BBC have conspired to destroy our civilisation.
What a peculiar notion. All these respected institutions (and many others) are all wrong you cynically claim, yet I’ll guess that some blog you read on the internet is right. Perhaps this is an appropriate moment to be introspective and ask if your biases are misguiding you?
He, like you, believes that global warming is real.
But he clearly explains that current climate policies will never succeed and money can be spent better elsewhere.
Is it not strange that people so worried about climate change have nothing to say about overpopulation in Africa and Asia?
Even if West stopped emissions completely tomorrow, it would have negligible effect on climate.
All this “Just stop oil” clowns should go and protest in Beijing and Delhi.
The legal (“regular”) immigrants are coming from India and the irregular immigrants are coming from the Middle East and Africa. Those countries are all suffering from chronic population growth. In many of the countries they are coming from, population has doubled since the 1990’s. The excess is heading for Europe. If there is “famine and conflict”, it is caused by over-population, not climate.
So? Immigration is nothing new. Wake up from you misguided ethnic purity dreams.
Low wages, high rents and property prices FTW
Three cheers for Ponzi scheme economics
On this scale, in this country, immigration is indeed something entirely new. The UK’s slow decline has been suddenly accelerated.
I read the comment from Gaag as ironic.
How can you tell these days?
You’re right, humans have always migrated but, in the modern world, the movement of poor people from the global south to the rich west in such large numbers threatens to undermine the stable, democratic and prosperous nations our forebears struggled to build. It’s already damaged social cohesion (diversity is definitely not our strength – this is evident from even a cursory reading of the research on this topic). It’s not an issue of race, though; it’s possible for multi-ethnic societies to thrive where citizens are bound by shared norms and values (my family are mixed heritage – I have a vested interest in this). Mass and/or irregular migration undermines this.
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