London: The David Cameron government`s
promise to substantially cut net migration during the tenure
of the current parliament is unlikely to be met, according to
a new analysis by the Migration Observatory at the University
In the promise made before the 2010 election and
repeated often after coming to power, Conservative party
leaders had promised to bring in tough restrictions to cut net
migration (the annual difference between immigration and
emigration) to "tens of thousands".
Conservative leaders have often accused previous
Labour governments of losing control over immigration policies
which allegedly led to net migration of "hundreds of
thousands" every year.
However, recent measures such as placing annual limits
on Indian and other non-EU nationals and restricting the
number of student visas were unlikely to lead to net migration
levels of "tens of thousands", the Oxford centre said.
Current immigration policy is set to miss the target
by more than 65,000, the analysis has revealed.
The Conservative party and its members in the
government are likely to face much criticism if the targets
are not met before the next elections in 2015.
In the commentary titled "Off Target", the observatory
has established that the Conservative pledge to reduce net
migration to less than 100,000 by 2015 does not correspond to
the Government’s own estimates of how far net migration can be
reduced by current policy changes.
Latest figures show that net migration has increased
to 242,000 (year to September 2010).
The government is attempting to reduce this level in
four ways: reducing labour immigration, student immigration
and family immigration from outside the EU; and making it
harder for migrants to settle in the UK by encouraging greater
The 242,000 figure means that the government needs to
reduce net migration by over 142,000 by 2015 to achieve their
However, government assessments estimate that changes
to the work route will reduce net migration by 11,000 in 2015,
while the changes to the student route will reduce net
migration by 56,000 in 2015.
The Migration Observatory estimates that forthcoming
changes to family migration are unlikely to reduce
net-migration by more than 8,000.
Proposed changes to settlement policy are also
unlikely to deliver tangible change for net-migration before
2016 as they will only affect migrants who arrived in the UK
after April 2011, meaning it will take five years before they
affect outflows, it said.
This means that, based on the Government`s own figures
and other generous assessments of the potential effects, the
Government`s current policies are unlikely to cut net
migration by more than 75,000 and possibly less - by the end
of this parliament.
Dr Scott Blinder, Senior Researcher at the Migration
Observatory said: "The government`s current policies only look
likely to reduce net migration by about 75,000 at best which
would mean that further reductions of more than 67,000 would
be needed to meet the `tens of thousands` net migration
He added: "Essentially this leaves the government with
four choices: introduce further restrictions on non-EU
nationals; reconsider the target or the timeframe in which
they intend to deliver it; continue and hope that net
migration of British and EU nationals turns sufficiently
negative; or continue and hope that all the current impact
assessments are way off the mark. We think the last two of
these are pretty unlikely."
Responding to the Oxford analysis, Immigration
minister Damian Green repeated the promise: "This government
will tackle abuse of the system and get net migration reduced
back down to the tens of thousands in the lifetime of this
parliament," he said.
Yesterday, Prime Minister Cameron said the Liberal
Democrats (ruling coalition partner) were preventing the
Conservative colleagues from taking tougher action on
He told the BBC: "We`ve all had to make compromises.
If I was running a Conservative-only government I think we
would be making further steps on things like immigration
control... We make compromises, we make agreements, but as a
government I think we`re delivering a lot of good things for
Liberal Democrats ministers such as Vince Cable
(Business secretary) have openly opposed tougher restrictions
on skilled professionals from India and other non-EU