Britain to miss migration target: think-tank

1st January 2012, Comments 0 comments

British Prime Minister David Cameron is going to miss his target of reducing annual net migration back to the "tens of thousands" by 2015, a think-tank warned Sunday.

Issuing its forecast for 2012, the Institute for Public Policy Research predicted that Britain's net migration -- the difference between the number of people entering and the number leaving -- would be 180,000 in the year ahead, down from a record 252,000 in 2010.

The IPPR said the government's best hope of getting it below 100,000 would be to make Britain less attractive to migrants and drive away migrants from the European Union who were already here.

Workers are free to come and go as they please within the 27-member EU.

The IPPR also warned that Britons still had little confidence that any government would get to grips with mass immigration.

Immigration and the rising population regularly top surveys of British voter concerns and it remains a thorny political issue.

"While policy changes will start to achieve significant reductions in immigration from outside the EU, this will not be enough to put the government on track to hit its target," said Matt Cavanagh, the IPPR's associate director for British migration.

Restrictions on immigration brought in by the government could also be a drag on the British economy when the demand for more workers rises, he added.

While there was strong public support for reducing immigration, there were also "surveys showing equally strong doubts that they will deliver this, and very mixed support at the level of detailed policies", Cavanagh said.

"By promising what it cannot deliver, the government, far from achieving its stated aim of taking the heat out of this emotive issue, will instead feed the public's sense of disillusionment," he said.

The British population stood at 62,262,000 in mid-2010, according to figures released in June by the Office for National Statistics.

Between 1999 and 2008, migration had been the main contributor to population growth in Britain.

The IPPR predicted that the number of migrants coming to Britain from outside the EU would fall by about 10 percent in 2012, fuelled by new restrictions on foreign students and worsening economic conditions.

Meanwhile restrictions on non-EU family migration were likely be snarled up in the courts, the report said.

Immigration Minister Damian Green said: "We've limited non-EU workers coming to the UK, overhauled the student visa system and will shortly announce reforms of the family migration and settlement routes.

"The latest quarterly figures show that student visas issued are down 13 percent and the main work visas issued are down 18 percent compared to last year -- an early sign that our policies are starting to take effect."

© 2012 AFP

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