Sharp fall in net migration

By Charles Maggs

Net migration into the UK fell by 59,000 between March this year and March last year, according to the Office for National Statistics.

There were 183,000 more people entering the UK than leaving it between spring this year and last, down from 242,000.

A large reduction in the number of people moving here to study is the biggest factor for the fall, but figures showed that more people are leaving the UK, with many finding the prospect of a guaranteed job elsewhere as a major pull factor.

But immigration minister Mark Harper suggested that the fall was down to government clamping down on immigration, rather than the UK becoming a less attractive place to live.

"This is a significant fall in net migration and the total number of visas issued for work, study and family reasons is at its lowest since 2005," he said.

"This shows we are bringing immigration back under control. Our tough policies are taking effect and this marks a significant step towards bringing net migration down from the hundreds of thousands to the tens of thousands by the end of this Parliament."

Five hundred and thirty six thousand people moved to the UK during the period, the lowest number since 2004, but there is still some way to go before the government reaches its target of bringing net migration down to under 100,000 a year.