10.3 million migrants, not 14 million, are predicted to arrive in the U.K. in the next 12 years

By: Arron Williams
June 7 2024

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10.3 million migrants, not 14 million, are predicted to arrive in the U.K. in the next 12 years

Fact-Check

The Verdict False

In the next 12 years 10.3 million long-term new arrivals are expected to come to the U.K., not 14 million.

Claim ID 33754481

Context

An advert from Reform U.K. claims that there will be 14 million new arrivals to the U.K. in the next 12 years. The advert cites its source as the Office for National Statistics (ONS). Alongside the claim is an image with a caption that reads, "Immigration isn’t working." Another line in the post reads, "It's time to take back control of our borders. It's time to freeze immigration."

The claim comes alongside wider discourse around immigration in the U.K. and Reform U.K.'s general statements that they aim to tackle migration and reduce net migration to zero. On June 3, Nigel Farage announced that he would become party leader for Reform U.K. in the upcoming general election on July 4. 

In fact

Current figures do not predict that 14 million migrants will arrive in the next 12 years. Glenn Garrett from the ONS told Logically Facts, "Our population projections show this to be 10.35 million" when referring to the prediction of new arrivals to the U.K. in the next 12 years.

The figure of 14 million is based on a projection of population growth over 15 years between 2021 and 2036, which stated that the U.K. would see 13.7 million people immigrate to the U.K. in the long term. This same projection suggested that 7.6 million people would emigrate out of the U.K., with about 10.8 million people being born in the U.K. and about 10.3 million dying. Overall, it is projected that the growth of the U.K. population would be 6.6 million when the difference between immigration, emigration, births, and deaths is calculated over this 15-year period.

When it comes to immigration in the U.K., there is a lot of confusion around the reasons why migrants come to the U.K., with discourse largely focused on asylum seekers and "small-boat" arrivals. However, Garrett told us that "work and study" account for the majority of migration into the U.K., and asylum seekers make up a very small proportion of the statistics, stating, "In the year ending December 2023, net asylum migration stood at 78,000. Around 90 percent of these are small boat arrivals."

Data from the ONS shows that in December 2023, the reasons for migration of non-EU nationals were mostly due to work and study. The table below outlines the long-term net migration estimates for the year-end December 2023 data from the ONS.

This same dataset also shows that migration due to reasons of asylum saw a gradual decrease throughout 2023, while migration due to work has continued to increase since 2021. By the end of 2023, work overtook study as the main reason for non-EU migration.

Migration from the EU has also decreased with migration patterns shifting. Garret told us, "Long-term immigration of EU nationals was estimated at 126,000 for the year ending December 2023, accounting for 10 percent of total immigration. This is similar to levels seen in December 2022, where EU nationals arriving in the U.K. were estimated at 116,000." This is also reflected in a report by the ONS, where, "until 2019, EU nationals were the larger component of total long-term immigration, whereas since 2021, when the new immigration system was introduced and free movement ended for EU nationals, the majority of immigration now comprises non-EU nationals." In total non-EU nationals made up 85 percent of the total long-term migration in estimates for 2023.

The U.K. has experienced high levels of immigration in recent years, with 2023 seeing unusually high rates of net migration. However, despite high rates, migration is still predominantly driven by work and study. When looking at immigration figures, it is important to look at net migration, which is the figure of those immigrating minus those emigrating. This is important because international students return home, people move to other countries, and they leave for a variety of other reasons. 

The verdict

The current projection does not predict that in 12 years, the U.K. will see 14 million new arrivals; the figures suggest a projection of about 10 million, but this does not take into account emigration and other population changes. Migration is at high rates, but this is still mainly driven by work and study, and more non-EU nationals are migrating to the U.K. Therefore, we have marked this claim as false.

Follow Logically Facts' coverage and fact-checking of the U.K. General Election here.

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