Brexit uncertainty driving EU migrants without 5 years’ residency out of UK


New research calls for a radical skills strategy for the construction sector

Commenting on today’s long-term immigration statistics from the ONS, Marley Morris, IPPR senior research fellow, said: “Today we have new evidence that there has been a Brexit effect on EU migration. While there is no mass ‘Brexodus’ of EU citizens, it is nevertheless true that net migration has slowed since the referendum, and this is driven in part by EU citizens leaving the UK.

“Our analysis suggests that EU citizens who have been in the UK for less than 5 years are particularly likely to be leaving. Given the proposed five-year residency requirement for settled status, this suggests that uncertainty over future status is a significant factor behind this emigration.

“Given migration patterns are now already changing, the government needs a twofold approach.

“First, it needs to send a clear signal to EU citizens (and to business) that their rights will be protected.

“Second, it needs to plan now to boost investment in skills domestically. Today, we’ve called for a radical skills strategy for construction, including a new construction productivity and skills levy to increase investment.”

The ONS migration statistics indicate that in the year ending June 2017 total long-term net migration to the UK was 230,000, compared to 336,000 in the year ending June 2016. This is largely due to a fall in net migration of EU citizens of 82,000, driven by falls of both EU15 citizens from the old member states and A8 citizens from the Eastern European 2004 accession countries. It should be noted that the migration figures are estimates only and subject to considerable sampling error.

IPPR’s analysis of the migration statistics suggests that in 2016 there was a statistically significant increase in emigration of EU citizens who had been in the UK for 1-4 years, from 45,000 to 77,000 (significant for EU15, A8, and A2 citizens). However, there was no significant increase in emigration for EU citizens who had been in the UK for 5 years or more.