Migration Statistics - Public Administration Committee Contents

1  Introduction

1. ONS migration statistics provide information on how the population is changing as a result of people coming to live in the UK and moving to live abroad. They are a key component of the population estimates for the UK, which are used to allocate central government funding to the UK's devolved administrations and to local public services. Population estimates are also used to calculate a wide range of social and economic indicators, which inform political decisions and help measure policy outcomes. Home Office immigration statistics provide information on controlled migration and on compliance with the Immigration Rules. Accurate, detailed and timely migration statistics are needed to measure the social and economic effects of migration and the impact of immigration policy.

2. During the last 15 years there has been considerable growth in immigration and emigration to and from the UK. Immigration has grown faster than emigration, leading to historically high levels of net migration. The Government aims "to reduce net migration from the hundreds of thousands back down to the tens of thousands" by the end of the current Parliament, and has introduced changes to the Immigration Rules to achieve this objective.

3. Opinion polls show that immigration is one of the most important issues for the public.[2] It is therefore vital that members of the public are able to find and understand reliable and comprehensive official migration statistics and that policy-makers understand what specifically concerns the public about migration.

4. This study on migration statistics is part of a wider programme of work we are carrying out on statistics and their use in Government. A full description of the studies is set out on our website at www.parliament.uk/pasc. The purpose of this inquiry was to assess the quality of migration statistics produced by the Office for National Statistics and the Home Office, and to establish how well-informed the debate about migration is as a consequence. We called for written evidence, and took oral evidence from the ONS, the Home Office, Westminster City Council, the Migration Research Unit at University College London, and the Oxford Migration Observatory.

2   IpsosMORI, Issues Index: 2007 onwards - The Most Important Issues Facing Britain Today, www.ipsos-mori.com; YouGov, "Immigration Concern hits three-year high", 8 May 2013, www.yougov.co.uk/news/ Back

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Prepared 28 July 2013