Net migration to UK drops after hitting record levels

ITV News Social Affairs Correspondent Sarah Corker spoke to asylum seekers and migrants in Derby, as net migration figures and the number of small boat crossings dropped

Net migration to the UK dropped by 10% last year after hitting a new record of 764,000 in 2022, revised official estimates show.

The latest figures, published a day after the General Election was called, are likely to feed the immigration debate - expected to be a key campaign battleground.

Revised estimates from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) put net migration to the UK in the year to December 2022 higher than previously thought.

However, the figure for the year to December 2023 is estimated to be lower, at 685,000.

The ONS said it is too early to tell if this is the start of a new downward trend, but that the most recent estimates indicate the number of people coming to the UK is slowing while those leaving is rising.

Levels of net migration to the UK have varied sharply in recent years.

The figure was on a downwards trend immediately before the Covid-19 pandemic, falling from an estimated 276,000 in 2018 to 184,000 in 2019.

It dropped to an estimated 93,000 in 2020, when restrictions introduced during the pandemic limited travel and movement.

The total then rose to 466,000 in 2021, before jumping further to a record 764,000 in 2022.

The most recent estimate of 685,000 for 2023, suggests levels are starting to fall once again, though “it is too early to say if this is the start of a new downward trend,” the Office for National Statistics said.

Work was the biggest driver of migration in 2023, overtaking study, and there was a substantial increase in the number of people arriving from outside the European Union (EU) on work-related visas, the figures suggest.

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