Daily Mail

Migration to rise... and rules relaxed to let in more builders

- By Harriet Line Deputy Political Editor

NET migration is forecast to settle at around 245,000 a year in the long term despite Rishi Sunak’s pledge to reduce overall immigratio­n.

The Office for Budget Responsibi­lity has revised its projection for long-term net migration up by 40,000 from its previous estimate in November.

Net migration – the difference between people moving to the UK and those leaving – will hit 245,000 a year from 2026-27 onwards, the OBR said. This is almost double what was predicted this time last year.

It forecasts that 1.6million people will arrive in the UK over the next five years – 300,000 more than previously thought.

The OBR said it had revised the forecast because of ‘significan­tly higher’ levels of non-EU immigratio­n than assumed. There have also been large numbers of students coming to the UK, as well as arrivals from Ukraine and Hong Kong, it added. Higher immigratio­n will contribute to a 0.5 percentage point increase in economic growth by 2027, according to the fiscal watchdog.

But the revised net migration forecast could spark a row among Tory MPs determined to reduce overall immigratio­n before the general election.

Meanwhile, the Government announced yesterday it would add five constructi­on occupation­s to the Shortage Occupation List (SOL), taking effect from summer. This is not expected to make a major difference to overall figures.

Ministers are awaiting the conclusion of a full review into whether to also invite more hospitalit­y staff to the UK. The Government also said yesterday it would review the SOL more regularly, based on recommenda­tions from the Home Office’s Migration Advisory Committee, ‘so that the legal migration system is quicker and more responsive to the needs of businesses and the economy’.

In its report on the economic and fiscal outlook, the OBR said: ‘Population growth over the forecast has been revised up from an average of 0.6 to 0.7 per cent a year.

‘We have taken on the ONS’s latest January 2023 projection­s for total net inward migration, which we now expect to total 1.6million cumulative­ly over the forecast (up from 1.3million in November and 0.8million in March 2022). Net migration flows settle at 245,000 a year, rather than the 205,000 assumed in our November forecast and 129,000 in our March 2022 forecast.’

Alp Mehmet, chairman of Migration Watch UK, said: ‘It was over half a million in the year to June 2022 and very likely to have been even higher for the whole of last year.

‘The expectatio­n that it will be around a quarter of a million by 2026 is fantasy. It also suggests the Government has no intention of getting a grip of the scale of immigratio­n.’

Home Secretary Suella Braverman said last October her ‘aspiration’ was to get net migration down into the tens of thousands.

Downing Street yesterday declined to be drawn on any target for net migration.

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