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Net migration to UK fell 10% last year, says ONS

Net migration – the difference between the number of people arriving in the UK and those leaving – was 685,000 in the year to December 2023, says the Office for National Statistics (ONS). 

This represents a fall from 764,000 for the year to December 2022 - a figure revised upwards by 19,000 from the initial estimate of 745,000 now more complete data for the year is available. The ONS said it is “too early to say if this is the start of a new downward trend”. 

The figures arrived a day after Prime Minister Rishi Sunak called for a general election for 4 July, in which immigration will likely be a key battleground issue. Home Secretary James Cleverly said the drop in net migration, as well as visa applications being down 25% so far in 2024, shows Mr Sunak’s plan was working but “there is more to do”. 

The Home Office said the net migration figures ‘do not take into account the major package of measures announced in December which have already started to have an effect’. These rules, which took effect last month, included increasing the minimum salary needed for skilled overseas workers. 

Non-EU immigration for work reasons went up from 277,000 in the year to December 2022 to 423,000 in the year to December 2023, according to the ONS. More than four out of 10 people moving to the UK for work-related reasons last year came from India or Nigeria, most commonly in the health and social care sector.

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