Belfast Telegraph

UK Website Of The Year

Home News UK

Poland overtakes India as most common overseas country of birth in UK

Published 25/08/2016

The first official immigration figures since the Brexit referendum are due to be published
The first official immigration figures since the Brexit referendum are due to be published

Poland is now the most common overseas country of birth in the UK after overtaking India for the first time.

The revelation came as figures showed net long-term migration dipped slightly - but remains close to record levels and more than three times the Government's target.

There were an estimated 831,000 Polish-born residents in 2015 - a jump of almost three quarters of a million compared with 2004, the year the country joined the EU.

This compared with 795,000 people born in India, which had been the most common non-UK country of birth for the previous 11 years.

Madeleine Sumption, director of the Migration Observatory at the University of Oxford, said: "Traditionally the UK's relationship with Ireland and the former colonies have been key factors in shaping its migrant population.

"What we can see from current data is that in recent years the EU has played a similar role."

Overall, one in eight people living in the UK last year was born abroad, while one in 12 had non-British nationality - compared with one in 11 and one in 20 in 2004 respectively.

There were 3.2 million EU citizens in Britain in 2015 - a figure which has almost tripled in just over a decade.

And separate figures also showed that more than a quarter (27.5%) of live births in England and Wales last year were to women born outside the UK, the highest level on record.

Meanwhile, net migration to the UK - the difference between the numbers arriving and leaving - stood at an estimated 327,000 in the year to March.

This was a slight fall compared with the previous 12 months, but still the third highest level on record.

Nicola White, of the Office for National Statistics (ONS), which published the figures, said: "Net migration remains at record levels, although the recent trend is broadly flat."

The findings sparked fresh controversy over the Tories' aim to bring the figure below 100,000.

Lord Green, of campaign group Migration Watch UK, said: "Unfortunately, these figures show no progress in reducing net migration from the record level of one third of a million a year.

"The referendum result demonstrated public concern about the scale of immigration. It simply cannot be allowed to continue."

Shadow Home Office minister Carolyn Harris said: "Once again, the Tory promise on immigration lies in tatters and net migration remains more than three times their target."

Immigration minister Robert Goodwill said r educing the number of migrants coming to the UK will be a priority for the negotiations to leave the EU.

He added: " We are also committed to reducing non-EU migration across all visa routes in order to bring net migration down to sustainable levels as soon as possible."

He insisted Government reforms "are working", but added: "There is no doubt there is far more to do."

The statistics also showed that:

:: Net migration for EU citizens was estimated at 180,000 - down on 184,000 for the previous year;

:: The dip resulted from a fall for citizens from a group of eight central and eastern European countries such as Poland and the Czech Republic;

:: This offset net migration of Romanians and Bulgarians, which was at a record estimated level of 61,000. Restrictions on people from the two countries working in the UK were lifted in January 2014.

:: Immigration - just the number arriving - was estimated at 633,000, one of the highest recorded levels;

:: L ong-term immigration of overseas students fell by 28,000 in a year to 164,000, the lowest estimate since the year ending December 2007.

Dariusz Laska, charge d'affaires at the Polish Embassy, said: " Britain was the refuge of the Polish government-in-exile and free Poles during WWII and the time of communism.

"The Polish community is a mixture of the descendants of those wartime and anti-communist exiles and those who decided to move to the UK after Poland joined the EU, who all equally contribute to Britain's culture, society, and economy.

"Poles pride themselves in the highest rate of individuals in employment or further education among all ethnic groups in Britain.

"Poles have also opened more than 22,000 businesses and create new workplaces. Higher wages rather than social security are the primary motivation for 84% of Poles migrating to the UK. "

In figures for overseas nationality, rather than country of birth, Polish has been the most common for a number of years.

Mr Laska said the Polish community has "already been the largest non-British population since 2007".

Read More

From Belfast Telegraph