In a short summary report the independent think tank, the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) has found that recent falls in net migration are the result of economic factors and not government policy.
The report, Migration Review 2011/12 identifies changes in migrant numbers over the last year and provides some explanation of the changes. One of the key conclusions reached in the report is that the self-set target of reducing net migration to under 100,000 will be very hard, if not impossible to reach.
The paper also questions the value of net migration as a metric given it is resulting in policies which risk damaging economic growth - at a time when it is greatly needed in the UK:
“Reducing immigration is a legitimate policy goal – but the choice of target brings two risks. The first is that by promising what it cannot deliver, the government, far from achieving its stated aim of taking the heat out of this emotive issue, will instead feed the public’s sense of disillusionment. The second risk is that the target will distort policy choices. This is happening across the board, for example with the proposal to introduce a high salary threshold for those wishing to marry someone from abroad. But the most troubling area, at a time when returning to growth should be the UK’s top priority, are the wide-ranging changes to economic migration.”
In reference to the cap on visa numbers introduced at the start of this government’s term, the report is also critical. It should be noted that the cap was not reached in 2011 due to economic conditions, and the report notes that “IPPR remains concerned that it could be a drag on economic performance in the longer term.
The conclusion adds: “It is slightly odd to see a government making a virtue of their flagship policy not actually having had any effect, but the more serious conclusion is that the experience of the cap so far should not be seen as a vindication of the policy for the future.”