Net migration to UK declined slightly before EU referendum

Net migration to UK declined slightly

Though Net migration to the United Kingdom declined slightly in the year up to March, it was still close to record levels, according to the figures revealed by the ONS (Office for National Statistics) on 25 August.

These are the first migration numbers to be released since the 23 June vote in which Britain voted to leave the European Union.

Net migration in the year up to March this year was 327,000, a fall of only 9,000 compared to the same period in 2015. The reason cited by most for migrating to the UK was employment.

May, who assumed office in July, has reiterated her assurance to bring yearly net migration down to less than 100,000, which according to supporters of Brexit is a sustainable level.

Reuters quotes Robert Goodwill, UK Immigration Minister, as telling Sky News that Brexit had presented the opportunity to enforce controls on the number of people coming from the EU to work in Britain. He said that they needed to zero in on the fields where there were skills shortages and take care to see that if migrants do not come in, then natives could fill those vacancies.

The Telegraph was quoted by Reuters as saying on 25 August that as per plans that ministers were considering, low-skilled migrant workers belonging to the EU would need to apply for work permits in the UK after the country quits the EU.

The Migration Advisory Committee head, David Metcalf, told the news daily they could control both the migrant numbers and the time they spend in the UK by using permits.

ONS said that the net migration from the EU predicted for the next year up to March 2017 was 180,000, a fall of 4,000 from 2016.

Adam Marshall, British Chambers of Commerce Acting Director General, stated that the government must also spell out how they will treat the new EU hires because many businesses are also saying that they are unsure if the people they wish to hire would be able to continue working with them in the future.

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