Net migration falls 49,000 to lowest level in two years

Credit: PA
  • Video report by ITV News Political Correspondent Emily Morgan

Net migration to Britain was down 49,000 in the year to September 2016, the lowest level in more than two years.

Estimated net long-term international migration - the difference between the number of people arriving and leaving the country - to the UK fell to 273,000 in the year to September, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said.

This was made up of 596,000 people coming to the UK, while 323,000 emigrated.

Of those coming to the UK 294,000 immigrated to work and 65% of them had a definite job to go to - the highest estimate recorded.

The fall in net migration was welcomed by the Government, which has repeatedly faced criticism over its target of bringing the number below 100,000 after it increased to more than three times that level.

Net migration of EU citizens was 165,000 in the year to September 2016, made up of 268,000 EU citizens coming to the UK - of who 113,000 had a job to go to - while 56,000 British and other EU citizens moved to other areas of the EU.

The number of migrants from Romania and Bulgaria was at an all time high: up 19,000 to 74,000, the highest level on record.

More British citizens left the UK than foreign nationals - 128,000, compared with 103,000 EU citizens leaving the UK and 93,000 non-EU citizens.

However, this was partially offset by a fall in the number of nationals from a number of other eastern European countries.

Statisticians said the drop in net migration was partially offset by a fall in the number of nationals from Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Slovakia, and Slovenia - countries which joined the EU in 2004 - coming to the country.

The fall in net migration was welcomed by the Government. Credit: PA

There was an outflow of nationals from these states of 39,000, and increase of 12,000 - this highest level for five years.

Net migration also fell for people from Africa, the Americas and Oceania.

Nicola White, head of international migration statistics at the ONS, cautioned against snap judgements of the Brexit vote's impact on the latest migration figures.

Immigration Minister Robert Goodwill said the fall in net migration was "encouraging" but said people "must not get carried away" by "one set of statistics".