Much has been made in the British media about the rising levels of immigration in the UK: particularly because the current Prime Minister personally vowed to slash the numbers dramatically during his term in office.
However, there’s another side to the latest net migration figures from the Office for National Statistics that everyone needs to be aware of, and that’s that whilst immigration levels remain strong, emigration levels have drastically fallen in recent years.
However, even that’s not the end of the story…because if you look closely at the demographic which is still leaving the UK, you’ll find it’s much more likely to be the crème de la crème of British talent and earning potential. This means that Britain is losing its best, whilst welcoming in at least some who are only seeking refuge rather than specifically immigrating to prop up the ailing economy! (Note: the figures for those immigrating to the UK for a definite job are at their lowest levels since March 2004 at 110,000)…
Where this debate has been raging on expatriate websites and forums, the voices of opinion always seems to be in harmony. Expats apparently all see Britain as a nation filled with foreign faces, where they don’t feel at home any more.
In part this feeling is normal – when you disassociate with your former ‘home’ nation you quickly feel out of place whenever you revisit. But could the comments hold more sway than that? Has the UK really become so alien to even its domiciled citizens?
Immigration is certainly one of the arguments commonly given as a reason for emigration. I.e., those leaving or planning to leave Britain often state that they are dissatisfied with the number of immigrants that the UK accepts annually.
The government certainly needs to listen to its people on this particular subject matter therefore, because it’s one that causes tensions in communities up and down the length and breadth of the nation.
However, are immigration levels really rising so sharply? Or is it the fact that emigration figures have fallen so sharply that means the final net migration levels are up?
Let’s look at the figures…
According to the Office for National Statistics, net migration figures stood at 239,000 in 2010, which is an increase of over 20% compared to 2009’s figures. 575,000 people entered the UK last year, and only 336,000 left Britain…that’s the lowest figure for six years.
Therefore the more concerning conclusions that we can draw from these figures is that fewer Britons than (almost) ever are leaving British shores. When you hear daily from so many dissatisfied Brits as we do at Expatra, it’s worrying to realise that many Britons who want to leave are seemingly trapped in the UK.
The reasons we hear times and again relate to affordability and job insecurity. People just don’t have the spare money to throw at a relocation, and they’re not willing to risk what they do have because the world is suffering economically speaking. This means that they are less likely to find work and stability abroad…
What’s more, those who are in employment fear for their job prospects, and so are less likely to rock the boat.
Britons are being restricted. But not all Brits are thus affected. According to Migration Watch UK, of those leaving well over half are of prime working age, (between 25 and 44), and the majority are leaving because they have an offer of work or to specifically seek work.
This means that Britain is losing its prime earners – those it needs to prop up the economy and pay tax to fund everything from wars to the NHS, from the social system to MPs’ expenses. Therefore whilst Dave and Nick are pouring over the net migration stats they might like to think about the stories behind the numbers.
If they don’t sort out immigration then more and more Britons will want to leave. And whilst the economy is ailing and therefore many Britons are restricted from leaving, those whom the UK really needs to retain are finding any way out!