London :Poland has overtaken India for the first time as the top country of birth for migrant population in the UK, new net migration figures released on Thursday showed.
The Office for National Statistics (ONS) estimates indicate a slight fall on record levels of net migration, which was recorded as 327,000 for the year until March 2016, but a significant rise in European Union (EU) migration into the UK.
“The most common non-UK country of birth in 2015 was Poland, with an estimated 831,000 residents (9.7 per cent of the total non-UK born population of the UK); compared with 795,000 residents born in India (which had been the most common non-UK country of birth since 2004),” ONS said in its population analysis.
The region with the highest proportion of non-UK born residents remains London (37 per cent).
Nicola White, ONS Migration Statistics Unit, said: “The population of the UK continued to increase between 2014 and 2015, driven by significant increases in both the non-UK born and non-British national population of the UK.”
“Poland is now the most common non-UK country of birth, overtaking India for the first time. The number of Polish born citizens living in the UK has continued to increase since Poland joined the EU and the number of UK residents born in Poland was eight times higher in 2015 compared with 2004,” it said.
The figures coincide with the release of a new report which believes Britain’s vote to leave the European Union (EU) can be used as an opportunity to fix a “broken” immigration system.
Think-tank British Future said the British public’s expectations of curbs on low-skilled migration must be met.
“Britain’s current immigration system is broken and is not working for anybody. Leaving the EU will have a major impact on almost all aspects of immigration policy. While Brexit will present challenges for decision-makers, it also offers an opportunity to get policy right in this area and to help secure consent for the immigration that we have,” the report said.
Former British Prime Minister David Cameron had pledged to reduce net migration to below 100,000 by 2020.
British Future released a parallel survey which suggested nearly half of Britons do not believe the government will hit this target.
“Public trust in governments’ competence to manage immigration including meeting its own targets is at rock bottom,” Sunder Katwala, director of British Future, said in a statement.
“Until we know what Brexit looks like, no one can sensibly predict what immigration levels would be best for Britain. But the Brexit shakeup could be an opportunity to get immigration policy right to restore trust in a system that works, and public consent for the immigration that we have,” he added.
The report comes as it emerged that the government led by Prime Minister Theresa May may consider work permits for low-skilled workers from EU as part of Brexit negotiations.