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EU migration continues to fall, ONS reveals

Today’s migration statistics published by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) show a fall in NET EU migration, driven by a fall in EU citizens coming to the UK for work.

In the year ending September 2017 net migration was at a similar level to early 2014 with 244,000 more people coming to the UK than leaving, so still adding to the UK population. This follows record levels of net migration during 2015 and early 2016.

The latest headline estimates are similar to last quarter (published 30th November 2017).

EU net migration has fallen over the last year, as fewer EU citizens are coming to the UK and the number leaving the UK increased. However, there are still more EU citizens coming to the UK than leaving.

Recruitment & Employment Confederation director of policy, Tom Hadley, said, “Today’s figures will be very worrying for businesses. This latest drop in the number of EU workers coming into the country will put a further strain on employers. We are already battling with skills shortages and this is a challenge for the whole labour market, at both graduate and non-graduate level. 

“Government can’t ignore any longer that Brexit is having an effect on the workforce. We urgently have to turn things around and make sure that EU workers still want to come to the UK. Employers need clarity so they can plan for the future and be able to invest in the growth of their businesses. We urge the government to come up with a post-Brexit immigration strategy that is based on evidence and will give businesses access to the workers they rely on. And this needs to include temporary and seasonal workers.”  

Ian Brinkley, acting chief economist at the CIPD, added, “These figures point towards a continuing trend of falling EU net migration, with fewer EU migrants coming to the UK and more exiting. The ONS themselves acknowledge that Brexit could be an explanation for this, but there is likely to be other factors at work.

“If this decline continues, then there is a risk of skills shortages in the future. Organisations need to give serious thought to how they will invest in their skills and training in order to plug the gaps created by restrictions on migrant labour. The CIPD/The Adecco Group Labour Market Outlook released earlier this week showed that future migration restrictions were unlikely to act as a catalyst for improving skills investment in the UK. The Government needs to encourage greater investment in skills and training, for example by making the apprenticeship levy into a much more flexible training levy that will help organisations develop the skills they need.”

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