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Last Updated: Thursday, 2 November 2006, 12:48 GMT
1,500 migrants arrive in UK daily
A crowd of people walking in a British high street
Upward trend: More people arriving than leaving
Some 1,500 migrants arrived to live in the UK every day in 2005, according to official estimates.

Government figures suggest 185,000 more people came to live in the UK than emigrated in 2005 - making the population grow by 500 a day.

The total for those arriving was lower than 2004's record, but continues a trend of high levels of migration.

While the number of arriving Eastern European workers grew, the numbers of people leaving the UK has also risen.

In total, 565,000 people arrived in the UK in 2005 saying they intended to stay for at least a year. At the same time, 380,000 people left - 1,000 people a day - more than half of whom were British citizens.

However, after taking into account those who left the UK, the net inflow of people was 17,000 lower than 2004's record figures.

According to the figures released by the Office for National Statistics, the largest single group of immigrants were 121,000 arrivals from "new commonwealth" nations - principally, Pakistan, Bangladesh, India and Sri Lanka.

Eastern European

However, the most striking figures relate to the eight Eastern European nations that joined the European Union in 2004 - 80,000 people from the so-called Accession Eight countries came to the UK for at least a year in 2005, up more than a half on the 52,000 of 2004.

A graphic showing inflows and outflows of British citizens: More British citizens are leaving than returning; More Eastern European workers are arriving than leaving.

Taking into account those who left, the figures suggest there were 64,000 more people from these nations in the UK than the previous year.

Earlier this year, the government released figures estimating that 600,000 people from Eastern European nations had sought work in the UK since 2004.

While this may seem at complete odds with the latest figures, the 600,000 total represents all those arriving to work for any length of time in the UK, rather than just those saying they intend to come for a year.

The ONS figures suggest that approximately 80,000 people a year are coming from Eastern Europe to live long-term in the UK.

The overwhelming majority were Polish with an estimated 49,000 Poles coming to live in the UK for at least a year in 2005 - three times the number in 2004.

The majority of Eastern Europeans came to work rather than other reasons, such as having married a British citizen or arriving to study, according to analysis.

'Crowded island'

Sir Andrew Green of pressure group Migrationwatch UK, said he believed the current rate of immigration was not sustainable.

2004: 52,000
2005: 80,000
Figures for migrants who say they intend to stay for at least a year, excludes temporary workers
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"Even at the present rate it's still well above the Government's assumption for the future and that assumption would mean that we had an extra million people every five years," he said.

Danny Sriskandarajah, a migration expert with the Institute for Public Policy Research thinktank, said that the figures should neither surprise nor alarm.

"The challenge for policymakers will be to make the most of increased mobility, not pander to reactionary opinion by trying to curb flows."

Shadow immigration minister Damian Green said: "Without a visible improvement in the government's ability to plan and control immigration, public confidence in the system will remain low."

Of those who left the UK, some 198,000 were British citizens. Asked where they were heading for, a fifth had chosen Australia, followed by groups going to live in Spain and France.

Of the other groups that left, 56,000 were from other parts of the European Union, 40,000 from "old Commonwealth" nations such as Australia and New Zealand, 24,000 from new Commonwealth nations and 62,000 from other places.

Migration flows (in thousands) 1996-2005. Inflows: 318, 326, 390, 454, 483, 480, 513, 513, 582, 565, Outflows: 264, 279, 251, 291, 321, 308, 359, 362, 359, 380.

The figures are based on surveys of people arriving or leaving at airports. While the method has been criticised in the past for lacking in accuracy, it is the only way the UK currently counts movements of people.

The Home Office has pledged to roll out its "E-Borders" project by 2008 to electronically monitor in greater detail migration movements to and from the UK.

Analysis of the migration figures

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