Tuesday, June 26, 2007

With almost half a million people coming from overseas to live in Britain each year, almost one in 10 of the population is now foreign-born

Grace Hammond:

Although immigration into the UK declined by about 20,000 to 473,800 in 2005 compared to the previous year, it remains "significantly higher" than in previous decades, said the Organisation of Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD).

The OECD's annual International Migration Outlook put the proportion of foreign-born people in the UK in 2005 at 9.7 per cent – or about 5.8 million people – with the largest groups originating in India (570,000), Ireland (417,000) and Pakistan (274,000).

The report, which looked at statistics for 2005 from the 30 members of the club of industrialised nations, said that "a significant proportion" of movements to the UK that year were down to "labour migration from the new EU member countries".

Britain was one of few EU nations to open its labour market to nationals of new member-states in Eastern Europe in 2004, and has seen thousands of workers arrive from countries like Poland, Latvia and Lithuania.

According to the report, there were just 24,000 Polish nationals in the UK in 2002, rising to 48,000 in 2004 and 110,000 in 2005. By 2006, the total number of Polish-born people living in the UK – including those who have taken on British nationality – stood at 229,000.

The report noted "a strong decline" in numbers of people seeking asylum in the UK, although the country remains second most popular destination among the OECD states, behind France.

Some 30,840 applications were made in 2005, down from 40,620 the year before and a peak of 103,080 in 2002, when more asylum seekers came to the UK than any other OECD country.

The report showed increasing numbers of foreign-born residents are taking on British nationality, with 161,780 becoming naturalised in 2005, compared to 140,705 the year before and just 37,010 in 1997, the year when Labour came to power.

The report noted there was a surge in applications for citizenship ahead of the November 1 2005 introduction of new tests in British culture and the English language.



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