The Home Secretary, Theresa May has repeatedly said that cutting migration to tens of thousands was a target for the coalition government. However, she has now admitted that this target had become ‘more difficult’ with the latest figures showing that 212,000 more people had moved to live in the UK than had left, despite the fact that net migration fell in the early stages of the coalition government. These figures from the Office for National Statistics show that net migration went up to 212,000 in the year to December 2013, from 177,000 the previous year.
The Home Secretary claims that, excluding immigration from the EU, the migration figures were back down to the levels last seen in the 1990s. Mrs May told the BBC”s Andrew Marr programme that “in those areas we can control – that is, immigration from outside the European Union – everything we have done as a Government has been having an impact.”
Further to this, she has stated that the government recognises the need to do something about European migration and outlined plans to cut down on immigration from within the EU. Due to EU laws regarding freedom of movement for EU nationals, the government has little power to stop immigration from the EU, and it is estimated that the main driving force behind the continuing flow of immigration is a stream of EU nationals heading to the UK.
The government”s main plan for reducing EU immigration is tightening up on access to benefits. The Home Secretary and The Work and Pensions Secretary, Iain Duncan Smith have said that the Government will look at plans to halve the amount of time immigrants can claim benefits from six months to three. Theresa May also confirmed, in a report in the Sunday Telegraph last week, that she was considering deporting EU nationals if they are claiming benefits and did not have a realistic prospect of finding a job, and could not find a job after six months. She further confirmed that changes were already being made that would mean EU migrants would have to be in the UK for three months before being able to claim benefits.
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