UK net migration in 2022 revised up to record 745,000

Net migration into the UK was a record 745,000 last year, figures show – far higher than originally thought.

Office for National Statistics data published on Thursday show that experts have revised up previous estimates.

In May, it said net migration – the difference between the number of people coming to live in the UK and those leaving – for 2022 had been 606,000, 139,000 lower than the true figure.

PM Rishi Sunak’s spokesman said migration was putting “unsustainable pressure on communities and councils” and it was clamping down on dependents of students arriving in the UK. “We believe there is more to do,” he added.

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said “shockingly high” net migration represented “a failure not just of immigration, but also of asylum and of the economy”.

The ONS said the population of England and Wales grew by an estimated 1% in the year to June 2022 – the fastest rate since the baby boom in the 1960s, but this time it was driven by international migration.

But it cautioned its estimates could be revised again – and provisional figures to June of this year suggest the rate of net migration may now be slowing.

Statisticians said in the year to June net migration fell back to 672,000, after 1.2 million people came to live in the UK for at least a year, and 508,000 left.

The vast majority (968,000) arriving were from countries outside the European Union.

Students accounted for the largest group of non-EU migrants, also true of last year.

But there has been an increase in workers arriving with visas to fill chronic staff shortages in the NHS and social care, the ONS said.

Arrivals of people via humanitarian routes have fallen from 19% to 9% over the same period, the ONS said, with most of these made up of Ukrainians and British Nationals (Overseas) arrivals from Hong Kong.

They said estimates showed a marked change in immigration since 2021 following Brexit – when free movement for EU nationals ended, the easing of travel restrictions after the pandemic and the war in Ukraine.

However, the ONS said it was too early to know whether the latest falling net migration figure was the start of a downward trend, but recent estimates did indicate a slowing of immigration coupled with increasing emigration.

It is understood the government is considering some new measures, including:

  • Limiting to one the number of relatives that health and social care workers are allowed to bring with them
  • Raising the minimum salary threshold for work visas
  • And abolishing the system allowing employers to pay less where there are recognised shortages

Downing Street said any next steps needed to be carefully considered.

The population of England and Wales was estimated to be 60.2 million mid-2022, an increase of around 578,000 – or 1% – since 2021.

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