IPPR says UK net migration unlikely to plunge in 2011

Airport arrivals sign Last year there were big increases in the number of immigrants coming from Lithuania and Latvia

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The UK's net migration rate is unlikely to fall significantly in 2011, according to a think tank's analysis.

The Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) says the figure for immigrants to the UK minus the number leaving will be around 200,000.

One reason it points to is that only about 30,000 UK citizens are emigrating - the lowest for almost a decade.

The government said it was committed to reducing net migration from its current 215,000 to less than 100,000 by 2015.

As well as pointing to the emigration rate, the IPPR report says that the relative strength of the British economy compared with some Eurozone countries is likely to attract migrant workers from Spain, Portugal, Greece and the Irish Republic.

The government has announced a cap on skilled workers from outside the European Economic Area and is planning to curb the number of foreign students.

But the IPPR says the cap will have only a limited effect while the student restrictions will not take full effect next year.

IPPR director Nick Pearce said: "Ministers must be careful to manage down public expectations.

"The cap on skilled migration from outside the EU, which the government has already put in place, could hurt the economic recovery. Other hasty measures to reduce numbers artificially would be even more damaging.

"Bringing down the level of immigration, which has been high in recent years, is a legitimate policy goal, but this should be done by making long-term and sustainable reforms to the structure of our economy and labour market."

'Uncontrolled system'

The IPPR also points out that last year there was a big rise in the number of immigrants from Lithuania and Latvia - up 21,000 and 19,000 respectively compared with increases of 13,000 and 12,000 the previous year, and it predicts further rises.

Immigration Minister Damian Green said the government remained "absolutely committed" to reducing net migration "from the hundreds of thousands to the tens of thousands within the lifetime of this Parliament".

"Throughout 2011 we will be introducing extra controls to affect every immigration route," he said.

"We will exert steady downward pressure on immigration numbers through the course of this Parliament, which is the sensible way to deal with the uncontrolled immigration system we inherited."

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