The Office of National Statistics in the United Kingdom has released their quarterly report, saying that net migration to the UK has increased by 94,000 from the same time last year.
Up to 330,000 legally relocated to the UK in the past year, driven by an increase from both inside the European Union and outside of it. Nearly 65,000 people came seeking employment. It is the highest ever level of European Union citizens – higher than the last record 320,000 after Poland and other Eastern European countries joined in 2005.
Notably, 53,000 Romanian and Bulgarian citizens immigrated to the UK in year ending March 2015 – up from 28,000 in the previous year.
More than half of the EU immigrants already have a job waiting. 61% were immigrating for a job they had already secured, whereas 39% intended to seek employment after they had arrived.
Immigration from EU “statistically significant”
The immigration levels from outside the EU rose to 284,000 – an increase of 21,000, but the Office for National Statistics was quick to point out that this does not represent a statistically significant increase.
Despite high profile coverage in the media, asylum applications increased by 10% compared with the previous year to 25,771 – again, not a statistically significant increase.
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The immigration minister, James Brokenshire called the numbers “disappointing”, as the government had previously set out a target of 100,000 immigrants per year. But this has proven to be a challenge, as freedom of movement within the European Union prevents the British government from capping immigration from EU member states. The government has seemingly not met its targets for immigration outside of the European Union, either.
Many studies on the effects of immigration to the UK have pointed out that it has very little effect on wages, and even helps to reduce the burden of government debt over time – however, the issue remains decisive for the British public, with some polls showing immigration to be of large concern.