Fewer people moving to live and work in the UK since Brexit vote

by Ray Clancy on May 30, 2017

Fewer people are moving to the UK to work with the most up to date figures showing that 275,000 did so in 2016, down 33,000 from the previous year.

The data from the Office of National Statistics (ONS) also shows that the majority, some 180,000 people, had a definite job, similar to 2015, but fewer people came into the UK looking for work at 95,000, down 35,000 from 2015.

(Lucian Milasan/Bigstock.com)

Overall, net migration to the UK, the difference between people arriving for more than a year and those leaving, was estimated to be 248,000 in 2016, a fall of 84,000 from 2015 and the ONS said the change was driven by ‘a statistically significant’ increase of 40,000 people leaving the country.

It was mostly citizens from the European Union with 117,000 leaving, up 31,000 from 2015, and it could be that they decided to leave due to Brexit as hundreds of thousands of expats in the UK have no idea what their status will be in two years’ time when Britain leaves.

The ONS report for 2016 includes six months of data following the EU referendum so it may be that people who have left have acted upon the result. They give the fullest picture year of immigration trends since the vote.

The data also shows that in 2016 the total number of people moving to the UK was made up of 264,000 non-EU citizens, 250,000 EU citizens and 74,000 British citizens.

The figures are published just days before the general election in the UK on 08 June. The Conservative Party has pledged to continue with its aim of reducing immigration to tens of thousands per year.

‘It’s good that the overall figure has come down now by nearly a quarter in a year. We’re determined to make sure that we do continue to reduce the overall net migration number,’ said Amber Rudd, the Home Secretary.

The Conservatives have also pledged to end the free movement of EU citizens after Brexit although those negotiating from the EU have indicated that if the UK wants to be part of the single market for trading purposes then that goes hand in hand with free movement.

A breakdown of the figures show that there was a drop in those arriving in the UK from eastern European states. Arrivals from the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Slovakia and Slovenia were down by 25,000 to 48,000, while those from these nations leaving the country increased by 16,000 in 2015 to 43,000 last year.

These resulted in the smallest net migration estimate of 5,000 for this group of nations since they joined the EU in 2004.

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