Cameron under pressure as net migration to UK surges

Net migration to Britain rose by more than 40 per cent in the year to June, official data released Thursday showed, putting pressure on Prime Minister David Cameron to demand EU migrant curbs. -- PHOTO: REUTERS
Net migration to Britain rose by more than 40 per cent in the year to June, official data released Thursday showed, putting pressure on Prime Minister David Cameron to demand EU migrant curbs. -- PHOTO: REUTERS

LONDON (AFP) - Net migration to Britain rose by more than 40 per cent in the year to June, official data released Thursday showed, putting pressure on Prime Minister David Cameron to demand EU migrant curbs.

The difference between the number of migrants arriving and those leaving rose to 260,000, up from 182,000 over the previous 12 months, the Office of National Statistics said in its quarterly report.

The rise was driven by immigration from other parts of the European Union, particularly from Romania.

The report said that the number of new national insurance registrations in the year to September 2014 was highest for Romanians at 103,900 - a 468-per cent rise from the previous 12-month period.

Cameron had promised to bring yearly total net migration to Britain under 100,000 and is expected to make a speech soon calling for changes to EU migration rules to make it harder for migrants to access benefits and to restrict freedom of movement.

Immigration and Security Minister James Brokenshire said it was "unlikely" the 100,000 target would now be reached before next May's general election but he said the report showed there had been a reduction in the number of arrivals from non-EU countries.

"Where the pressure is being brought to bear is on EU migration where we don't have those same controls," he told the BBC.

"The prime minister has identified this as the key pressure point," he said, warning that "uncontrolled migration" put pressure on public services.

But a study earlier this month found that EU immigrants to Britain paid more in taxes than they received in benefits over the last decade.

The report by academics at University College London found that EU migrants contributed a net £20 billion (S$40.9 billion) to the public purse between 2001 and 2011.

Migrants have been drawn by Britain's economic recovery.

Britain this week reported economic growth of 0.7 per cent in the third quarter of 2014, compared to an expansion in the sluggish eurozone economy of just 0.2 per cent.