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UK Undercounted EU Net Migration by Almost One Million over Past Decade


A report from the Migration Observatory at the University of Oxford has estimated that the Office for National Statistics (ONS) undercounted net EU migration to the United Kingdom by an average of 93,000 per year between 2012 and 2020.

The study estimated that, in total, net migration to Britain was 15 per cent higher than previous estimates from the ONS, with many more people entering the country than initially believed.

The discrepancy between the former figures and the reality came as a result of the structural problems inherent in the previous immigration counting system — the International Passenger Survey — which was in effect until recently.

Under the old system, the government would compile an estimate of immigration based on a voluntary clipboard survey of 250,000 arrivals per year at some points of entry to the country, rather than actually counting the number of people coming in and out of the country.

Updated methods still refrain from doing an actual tally but include supposedly more reliable means of estimating numbers, such as tracking taxes and benefits.

Under the new counting system, the ONS now estimates that over the nine-year period up to March 2020, net EU immigration averaged 216,000 per year, or 76 per cent higher than previously disclosed.

According to the revised data, immigration from countries in the European Union accounted for 64 per cent of all migration, up from the 42 per cent reported by the old survey method.