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New figures suggest Brexit contributing to workforce crunch, says IPPR

ONS migration statistics show sharp fall in EU nationals coming to UK to look for work

Phoebe Griffith, IPPR Associate Director for Migration, commenting on today’s long-term immigration statistics from the ONS, said:

 “The latest migration statistics confirm a significant fall in net inflows of EU citizens to the UK. This is not a ‘Brexodus’ – there are still more EU nationals coming than going – but there has been a sharp fall in EU nationals coming to the UK to look for work since the referendum, as well as a rise in EU nationals leaving.

 We’re now starting to feel the effects of this trend on our immigration system and the UK labour market. For the third month in a row, the cap on recruiting skilled migrants from outside the EU has been hit, largely due to pressures to recruit from abroad within the NHS.

 Given all the barriers currently facing employers who want to recruit from outside the EU – including salary thresholds, labour market tests, and the £1000 immigration skills charge – the fact that the cap is still repeatedly being hit shows the irrepressibly high demand for migrants among employers.

 Government needs to act now by lifting the arbitrary monthly limit. But employers also need to plan now for a world without freedom of movement. This means business working with government to develop new skills and productivity strategies for key sectors reliant on EU labour.”

The ONS migration statistics indicate that in the year ending September 2017 total long-term net migration to the UK was 244,000, compared to 273,000 in the year ending September 2016.

There has been a large fall (75,000) in net migration of EU citizens, driven by falls of both EU15 citizens from the old member states and A2 citizens from Romania and Bulgaria.

The net inflow of A8 citizens from Eastern European accession states is already low, having fallen in past quarters, but has not dropped further.

The changes are in part due to a fall in EU nationals coming to the UK to look for work and an increase in EU nationals leaving the UK. The number of EU citizens leaving the UK is the highest recorded since 2008.

It should be noted that the migration figures are estimates only and subject to considerable sampling error.