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Monday, April 14, 2014

Why is the UK so bad at counting people who come and go?

The ONS has now admitted that its figures for net migration into the UK were underestimated for the best part of a decade. For the period 2001-2012 it has said that 346,000 more people came to the UK than under its previous count. That the migration figures are liable to revision should be no surprise as the underlying original data - the International Passenger Survey (IPS) - is (as the name suggests) only a survey. The UK Government doesn't properly count who comes and leaves. However, the underestimation is still startling. 

Of the newly found 346,000 (the green line charted below) it is assumed that most of it can be accounted for by EU migration.

Source ONS

As we can see from the purple line net EU migration picked up after 2003 peaking in 2007 at over 100,000 per year. This coincides with the period of the majority of the ONS under-counting. The ONS believes its under-counting was due to a failure to recognise the large numbers of EU migrants coming through regional airports. Under the original IPS figures for the 1996-2011 period, a net figure of 3.9 million came into the UK of which 800,000 were from the EU. So who are the newly discovered 346,000 and how many EU migrants did actually come to the UK?

The answer is that we do not know. The 2011 census, which is a more accurate dataset, suggested that there were 2.7 million EU migrants in the UK of which 1.1 million had come from the 'new' post 2004 accession states. But this may itself be an underestimate and will include a large number of longer term migrants. It is likely that the ONS is right to suspect that their figures for EU migrants were underestimated but unless the UK starts counting people in and out we will never accurately know.

This is one of the biggest problems with the EU migration debate: the absence of reliable data and information erodes public trust in free movement. Yes, EU membership involves some loss of control over the border. But the UK is still out of the Schengen 'passport free' zone and other countries - via more effective identification (a complicated discussion in itself), taxation and border systems - are far better than the UK at counting.


Freedom Lover said...

This is absolutely disgraceful! It seems our taxes buy us nothing we, the people, want. Only huge bonuses & expenses fiddles for the elite! Time for a very big change, I say!

Anonymous said...

One wonders how it is possible to get accurate figures when the numbers aren't really counted due to the freedom of movement.

Average Englishman said...

One is tempted to say that despite his protestations to the contrary, Tony B. Liar knew exactly how many people would enter the UK when the new Eastern states entered the EU but was quite happy for as few people as possible in the UK to understand the scale of the influx whilst he was in power.

Therefore, he was quite content for the minimum of scrutiny to applied to monitor new admissions. I am not suggesting that he willfully distorted the facts or made any changes to the civil service arrangements for counting and controlling the numbers concerned but he was quite content for an existing sloppy system to continue.

It is only now that the repercussions of the actions of Blair and his successors and the EU's 'open borders' policy cannot be denied (because of the very large numbers of Polish, Rumanian, Bulgariaon, etc., migrants that have very obviously come to the UK) that the monitoring at least has been tightened up.

It is a warning to always take notice of what politicians do and not what they say.

As an aside, I am not saying that the entry of so many Polish etc., people into the UK has necessarily been a bad thing or that I want them to 'go home', only that it was achieved by UK Governments by deceit and not following an open democratic debate to obtain the approval of the UK people because they thought they would not get it.

This is exactly how the the slow but steady takeover of the UK by the EUSSR is being achieved and why the likes of UKIP are in the ascendancy; there is a massive gap in the UK between the majority of our politicians who are pro the EUSSR and the majority of our people who are very much not. This democratic deficite is in the course of being rectified and the more light that shines upon the deeds of the EU (courtesy for example of better immigration assessment), the quicker that change will come.

Roll on the May elections.

Rollo said...

It is a deliberate deceit because the political class does not want the people to know the extent of immigration. Just the number of 'white van men' offering services for cash would probably amount to this number. Our own school-leavers, tradesmen and the tax payer are the hidden victims. But who cares? the EU offers fat careers for failed politicians.

Anonymous said...

This announcement makes me wonder why the UK government at the time signed away control of our borders without putting in place any kind of effective monitoring system to understand inflows and outflows of people.

To me this is an outrage and those responsible should be in court to explain why they have done their jobs so negligently.

The politicians responsible should be paying back their salaries for the period concerned, fined and then be put in prison.

If it is good enough for fraudulent bankers then it is good enough for negligent politicians.

I agree with Freedom Lover - time for a very big change. Mine is UKIP.


Rik said...

Your immigration service is simply crap.

The UK can easily check and register at its borders as it is an isle. The only gap is via Ireland, which is marginal anyway and it concerns mainly Irish which are sort of human.
Rest is ports, airport and tunnel relatively easy to control.

And it has been going on for 2 or 3 decades now, which means it is simply mismanagement.
Just look at riskmanagement. Seems to be non-existent. Priority setting idem. Cost benefits analysis nobody ever heard of those. Experience in other countries same. Best practices same. Execution even more horrible than policy making.

The risk now is (via EU part) twofold:
-EU 3rd world. They didnot came in large numbers (yet at least) probably wise to try to avoid these establishing their ownn ghettos (if you have those that is the one of the main reasons you get the second way of mass immigration). You donot have to put much effort in Finns or Danes, just start with registering these groups.
On top of this these are the countries that sell/give away passports. Nice to make an issue about 2K millionaires via Malta, but all sorts of Balkanites via EU members there are much larger numbers and much more likely being basketcases as well.
-Economic disasterzones down South.
They are probably as much as the Rumenians, Romanions and Romanians the ones that will compete at the bottom of the labourmarket. And will be a drag on services. Northern Europeans overall pay more than they use for government services. So not really a problem. More difficult to register.

Idris Francis said...

There's none so blind as those who don't want to see.