Net migration from the EU to the UK has fallen to a six-year low, while non-EU migration is the highest for over 10 years, according to new statistics by the Office for National Statistics.
There were 74,000 more EU citizens who came to the UK than people leaving for other EU countries. This was the lowest estimate for EU net immigration since 2012 and the lowest immigration level since 2014.
Non-EU net migration was at its highest since 2004, with 248,000 more non-EU citizens arriving than departing, the statistics revealed.
This announced fall comes as the government considers introducing a new immigration system post-Brexit. The policy is expected to restrict migration for “low-skilled workers”, which will have a significant impact on the hospitality industry which currently relies on EU labour.
UKHospitality Chief Executive Kate Nicholls said: “A fall in the number of EU migrants is seriously worrying for hospitality employers. We need workers from the EU to bolster our home-grown workforces and keep pace with growth, particularly with unemployment so low.
“This staffing shortfall will only become more acute if the Government pushes ahead with a plan to exclude many potential hospitality workers as part of its future immigration policy. If businesses do not have access to the workforce, how are they expected to hire people, grow their businesses and invest?
“Should the tier 2 test on skills and salary be applied to all post-Brexit migrants, as currently proposed, we estimate that 80-90% of potential hospitality jobs would be excluded.
“Ultimately, customers are going to feel the brunt of this when businesses have no choice but to pass on higher costs and closures mean a reduction in choice and convenience. The Government needs to change tack now, and recognise this issue in its forthcoming White Paper or we will see high streets continue to be undermined and businesses will fail.”
Madeleine Sumption, the director of the Migration Observatory at Oxford University, said: “EU migrants have been leaving in larger numbers since the referendum, and net inflows have greatly decreased. The lower value of the pound is likely to have made the UK a less attractive place to live and work and economic conditions in several of the top countries of origin for EU migrants have improved.”