The Government is refusing to release immigration statistics because it will be ‘unhelpful to the negotiation process’. On the day of the EU council, it has been revealed that HMRC will not publish statistics which may reveal that ‘there are actually considerably more such recent migrants than the official immigration or labour market statistics actually suggest’ according to a former chief economist at the Cabinet Office.
Commenting, Vote Leave Director Stephen Parkinson said:
‘While the UK is a member of the European Union, the simple truth is we cannot control migration from the EU. Now it seems that George Osborne’s Department is trying to hide the truth from the British people. As his own independent experts have said, the Prime Minister’s trivial demands will not make any difference to the number of people coming here. The only way to take back control of our borders is to Vote Leave.’
Notes to editors:
The full blog from Jonathan Portes of the National Institute of Economic Social Research can be found here.
The Government’s top economic advisor says its proposals on welfare will have no impact on migration. On 8 December 2015, Sir Stephen Nickell CBE, one of the top three members of the independent Office of Budget Responsibility, said changes to welfare would have ‘not much’ impact on immigration, stating ‘any changes to benefit rules are unlikely to have a huge impact on migration flows’ (BBC News, 8 December 2015, link).
The Government itself does not know what the impact will be. In June 2015, the Government was asked if it could ‘estimate the number of EU nationals who would not have chosen to migrate to the UK if they had not been entitled to tax credits for the first four years of their stay.’ The Government responded that ‘this information is unavailable’ (Answer to written parliamentary question no. 4124, 29 June 2015, link).
The Government has dropped key promises on immigration and welfare made just last year, including requiring EU migrants to have a job offer. Just last year, David Cameron promised that ‘we want EU jobseekers to have a job offer before they come here’ (speech at JCB, 28 November 2014, link). Yet this forms no part of the renegotiation he started less than six months later. In the same speech, David Cameron promised that ‘if an EU jobseeker has not found work within six months, they will be required to leave’ (speech at JCB, 28 November 2014, link). Yet EU law – which the Government is not seeking to change – prevents the removal of jobseekers who are seeking work and have a genuine chance of finding it, regardless of how long they have been in the UK (ECJ, 15 September 2015, link). On 30 November 2015, the Government admitted that some EU jobseekers can ‘keep the status of jobseeker for longer than six months’ (Answer to written Parliamentary Question, 2 December 2015, link).
The Government’s limited plans may be illegal. The UK’s top civil servant, Sir Jeremy Heywood has warned that the four year test for in-work benefits is illegal under EU law (BBC News, 21 July 2015, link).
Net migration from the EU accounts for more than half of overall net migration to the UK. The latest migration statistics from the Office for National Statistics, released last month and covering the year ending June 2015, show that net migration from the EU was 180,000 – 54 per cent of the record 336,000 level of overall net migration (ONS, Migration Statistics Quarterly Report, November 2015, link). The ONS calculate that 286,000 EU citizens immigrated to the UK in the year ending June 2015 – equivalent to the population of Nottingham or Newcastle upon Tyne.
Jonathan Portes is Principal Research Fellow at the National Institute of Economic and Social Research. Previously, he was Chief Economist at the Cabinet Office, where he advised the then Cabinet Secretary, Gus O’Donnell, and Number 10 Downing Street on economic and financial issues. Before that, he held a number of other senior economic policy posts in HM Government, beginning his civil service career in HM Treasury in 1987.