UK migration levels predicted to increase to 245,000 in coming years

Projections come at a time when the government is actively trying to reduce net migration

Passport control at Manchester airport. The return of international travel following the pandemic as well as changes to the post-Brexit immigration system have affected migration levels. PA
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Despite government promises to cut the number of migrants arriving in the UK, migration levels are projected to increase to 245,000 people each year.

Net migration will reach 245,000 a year from 2026-27 onwards, up from a previous estimate of 205,000 in November, the latest forecast from the Office for Budget Responsibility showed.

The projections come despite a government commitment to reducing net migration.

The OBR cited figures from the Office for National Statistics in making the determination and comes as Chancellor Jeremy Hunt announced plans to add five construction occupations to the “shortage supply list”- the system that makes it easier for firms to hire overseas workers.

The government is also set to review that list, according to budget documents, “so that the legal migration system is quicker and more responsive to the needs of businesses and the economy”.

The changes are not expected to make a major difference to overall immigration figures.

Treasury officials said that immigration policy was a matter for the Home Office. Downing Street refused to be drawn on any target for net migration.

Last October, Home Secretary Suella Braverman said her “ultimate aspiration” would be to get net migration down into the tens of thousands.

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The 2019 Conservative manifesto committed to “fewer lower-skilled migrants” and bringing overall numbers down.

The OBR said that higher forecast levels of inward migration were “consistent” with relatively high recent rates of actual net migration.

Statistics office figures released last November showed that UK net migration was 504,000 in the year to June, the highest figure since records began.

As to high recent migration into the country, the OBR pointed to the return of international travel following the pandemic, as well as changes to the post-Brexit immigration system.

Providing 129,000 visas to people from Hong Kong and 210,000 to Ukrainians fleeing the Russian invasion also contributed, the forecasting body said.

Updated: March 16, 2023, 5:41 AM