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Net migration in UK hits record high – surpassing levels seen before Brexit

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Migration to the UK reaches record high

Migration to the UK reaches record high

Net migration in the UK has hit a record high of 504,000 in the past year, surpassing levels seen even before Brexit.

Data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) showed that net migration rose from 173,000 in the year to June 2021 to 504,000 in the year to June 2021, an increase of 331,000.

The total – based on the number entering the UK minus those leaving – is 170,000 more than the previous post-war record of 331,000 in 2015.

The increase stems from a surge in visas for foreign nationals to live, study and work in the UK, which exceeded one million for the first time in the year to June.

The increase has also been fuelled by the arrival of Ukrainian and Afghan refugees and Hong Kongers, on top of a slump in the number of people leaving the UK.

The figures will raise concerns over the Government’s election manifesto pledge to bring down net migration, a promise repeated by Rishi Sunak as Prime Minister and Mrs Braverman, who told Tory conference her ambition was to reduce it below 100,000.

They are significantly higher than the 224,000 projected for next year by the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) as part of the Autumn statement and the forecast steady decline to 205,000 a year.

It is understood, however, that Home Office ministers are pressing Number 10 on the need for measures to curb uneconomic legal migration in order to fulfil the Tories’ manifesto pledge.

These could include restrictions on the rights of students to bring in dependents, a crackdown on those who do not complete their courses but remain in the UK and curbs on foreign students on “uneconomic” low quality courses. The salary threshold for skilled workers could also be raised.

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