UK net migration hits record high of 606,000 despite government promises

British Home Secretary Suella Braverman attends the weekly government cabinet meeting at 10 Downing Street in London, Britain, May 23, 2023.

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LONDON – Net migration to the UK hit a record high of 606,000 in 2022, despite the government’s pledge to reduce the figure.

Figures released by the country’s National Statistics Office on Thursday showed non-EU nationals accounted for 925,000 long-term arrivals, while 151,000 were from the EU and 88,000 from the UK. The total number of immigrants from the UK was 557,000.

Reducing net migration was a pledge of the ruling Conservative Party in its 2019 election manifesto, when the figure was 226,000. Previous figures released in November showed net migration of 504,000 in the year to June.

The government stressed that many of the recent arrivals were refugees from Ukraine, Afghanistan and Hong Kong. Compared to the previous year, the proportion of people arriving by humanitarian route will increase from 9% to 19% by 2022.

Legal immigration is a contentious issue within the Conservative Party.It is in government seeking to promote tepid economic growth and easy Tightness In the labor market, this poses challenges for businesses, and in sky-high inflation.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has said he wants net migration below 500,000, about where he was when he took office last fall.

However, he clashed with the more hawkish Interior Secretary, Suella Braverman, over some proposed measures to lower the numbers. Sunak also stressed that migrant workers were vital to sectors including the National Health Service.

In a speech earlier this month, Braverman said: “It is not xenophobia that mass and rapid migration is unsustainable in terms of housing provision, services and community relations.” People should fill jobs that are in short supply, like truck drivers, butchers, and fruit pickers.

new restrictions

“not fit for purpose”

Yet workers in many industries say they are grappling with hiring challenges exacerbated by Brexit.

Raj Sehgal, chief executive of Norfolk-based nursing home group Armscare, told CNBC that vacancies in the sector have hit record highs over the past year, with more than 165,000 vacancies, coupled with growing demand for services and the post-Covid pandemic. of burnout.

He said it was difficult to attract young domestic workers to rural areas where many nursing homes are located, while Brexit and the weaker pound made Britain less attractive for EU workers.

“The whole process of hiring migrant workers is totally not fit for purpose and is not good for employers looking to grow and expand their economy,” Sehgal said.

“It’s complicated and expensive … for workers it requires a long and complicated process to get a sponsor, and for employers there is a cost burden such as the immigration skills surcharge is not just a tax on employment. “

CNBC has asked the Interior Department for comment on the new data.

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