Migration statistics

Written evidence submitted by Piers Elias (5STATS 13)

I work a demographer for five Local Authorities in the NE and chair the Local Authority side of the Population sub-group (CLIP – Central and Local Information Partnership) which meets twice a year with ONS and which Ben Humberstone chairs. International Migration has been the weakest element in the Population Estimates for many years so I was delighted to see this issue being discussed.


I watched the live broadcast this morning and listened with interest.  I don’t know if it is appropriate to comment on the broadcast but I would like to emphasise the following points:


1.   The International Passenger Survey (IPS)  was designed originally to monitor Economic Information for Balance of Payments Information through Tourism and Overseas Travel. http://discover.ukdataservice.ac.uk/catalogue/?sn=7087&type=Data%20catalogue . ONS use the IPS for Migration Estimates and have tried to improve coverage for Migration statistics by taking samples at more ports and airports but…

2.   IPS sample size is still inadequate – around 0.6% of the 900k interviews are found to be Long Term Migrants. (3,000 for immigrants and 2,000 for emigrants) hence the large confidence intervals and the lack of detail available for at Local Authorities level.

3.   E borders will count the overall flows better but is not the solution for Local Authority improved estimates - it won’t tell us where the migrant is going to live, nor where they are leaving from – so it doesn’t help Local Authorities plan services. Also, you do not have to inform the Home Office if you move during the validity of your passport.

4.  Difficulty in definition of "Usual Resident� on which Local Authority funding is currently based (though that emphasis is now changing toward Business Rates Retention).  Many overseas migrants are NOT in the official Mid Year Population estimates as they are short term migrants, so the figure of overseas nationals living here is probably much higher, as cited by Westminster.

5.   A decennial Census is essential to allow a benchmark to be re-established every 10 years.  Beyond 2011, the ONS project looking at alternatives to the Census has yet to re-assure us on that issue, should a traditional census be dropped.


April 2013

Prepared 17th May 2013