Non-British born population exceeds eight million as UK becomes popular with migrants

by Ray Clancy on September 2, 2015

More and more people are moving to live and work in the UK with the country’s foreign-born population just 2,000 below the record set in 2005, new official figures show.

People seeking jobs, students and people with family already in the UK have combined to take the population not born in the country above eight million for the first time. They are moving from all over the world.

tower-bridge-london-ukThe data from the Office for National Statistics show annual net migration in to the UK surged to 318,000 in the 12 months to March 2015 and in 2014 some 13% of the usual resident population of the UK were born abroad, up from 8.9% in 2004.

The ONS says that there was a statistically significant increase in the non-UK born population between 2013 and 2014, rising from 7.9 million to 8.3 million, an increase of 4.5%.

It is the fifth consecutive quarterly rise in the net migration figure and new arrivals are a mix from both the European Union and elsewhere worldwide. From within the EU there was a rise of 53,000 in a year, taking the total to 183,000.

The number of those arriving from countries outside the EU was larger, with net migration up 39,000 in 12 months to a total of 196,000.

The data shows that two thirds of the EU migrants are people who have sought jobs, workers and a fifth are students. Among those from the rest of the world about a half were students, a quarter workers, and one sixth family members.

India was one of the most common non-UK country of birth in 2014. An estimated 793,000 people living in the UK were born in India, some 9.6% of the total non-UK born population. But even more were from Poland, an estimated 853,000 or 16%.

However, according to a briefing published by the Migration Observatory, an independent organisation, the true number is likely to be higher than official figures suggest as migration has increased since the figures were collated.

It believes that the eight million threshold is actually likely to have been crossed more than a year ago because there is a lag in the ONS’s figures.

Overall, the share of the British population born abroad is broadly in line with other countries in Europe. In 2014, six countries had larger foreign born populations than the UK, including Austria, Ireland and Sweden. Nine other countries had smaller shares, including Italy, Portugal and Finland.

Meanwhile, the UK is cracking down on illegal working. Immigration Minister James Brokenshire has announced that under new rules illegal immigrants will face up to six months in prison for working in the UK.

The new crackdown will also see restaurants, late night takeaways and off-licences facing closure if they are caught employing foreigners who have no legal right to be in the country.

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