Net migration falls by one-third

Net migration – the number of people who come to live in Britain minus the number who move abroad – fell by more than a third to 163,000 last year, its lowest level since Poland joined the European Union.

The Office for National Statistics said the fall from 233,000 in 2014 was mainly driven by a rise in emigration to a 17-year high: 427,000 people left Britain to live abroad, up from 341,000 the previous year.

The increase was mainly due to the number of Poles returning home.

Asylum figures show a further fall in the number of fresh claims for refugee status between July and September this year to 5,055 – a decline of 24 per cent compared with the same period in 2015.

Refugee welfare groups said the fall in asylum numbers was not necessarily a matter of celebration but raised fears that the tightening up of Britain’s borders was denying sanctuary to those who needed protection.