Wednesday, 9 December 2009

1 in 10 living in Britain are foreign nationals

The number of immigrants living in Britain has almost doubled in less than three decades, official figures show.

More than 10 per cent of the population - 6.7million - were born abroad, the Office for National Statistics has found.

The analysis shows that the count of those born abroad - now agreed to be the best figure for measuring the rate of immigration - is two million higher than it was just eight years ago.

And the figure is nearly double the 3.38million people born abroad who were recorded as living in Britain in 1981.

The scale of immigration over the past few years was set out in a breakdown by National Statistician Jil Matheson, the recently-appointed head of the Government's Office for National Statistics.

She said that there are 689,000 migrants from Eastern Europe in Britain, an increase of 522,000 since Poland and seven other Eastern European countries joined the EU in 2004.

But these make up only one in ten of the foreign-born population of the country, Miss Matheson found.

She also endorsed the ONS projections that say that the UK population will hit the politically sensitive 70million mark in 2029.

She added the recession is likely to have only a small impact on the record levels of immigration since 2001.

The ONS report found that Eastern Europeans have begun to emigrate as well as to arrive in Britain, and overall 20,000 more Eastern Europeans came to this country than left it in 2008.

Current research, Miss Matheson added, suggests that 'a short-term period of falling immigration can be expected, before immigration levels rise again to pre-recession levels'.

She concluded: 'The current recession is likely to have a small and temporary effect on net migration.'

Her findings run counter to assurances from Gordon Brown and Immigration Minister Phil Woolas that the new Home Office points-based immigration system will curb numbers coming into the country and the 70million population mark will never be reached.

Sir Andrew Green, of the Migrationwatch think-tank, said: 'This report confirms the massive impact of immigration on our population under the present Government.

'It must be brought under control, but so far Government policies are completely inadequate for the purpose.'

However, Border and Immigration Minister Phil Woolas said: 'These population projections do not take into account the impact of future government policies or those Eastern Europeans who came here, contributed, and are now going home.

'Projections are uncertain. For instance in the 1960s they said our population would reach 76million by the year 2000, this was off target by 16million.'

He added: 'And let's be clear the category "foreign-born mothers" includes British people born overseas - such as children whose parents are in the armed forces or those who come to Britain at a very early age.'

Previous research counted the number of foreign passport holders, but with many being granted British citizenship counting those who are foreign born is now thought to give the most accurate figure.

The findings on the scale of immigration follow evidence that the arrival of large numbers of migrant workers has pushed down wages and living standards for low-paid workers.

A report last week by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation charity found that the poorest-paid working families have been getting poorer and suffering greater unemployment not since the onset of recession, but from 2004 onwards during a time of economic boom.


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