The Government's target to cut net migration to the UK to the tens of thousands by 2015 is "neither a useful tool nor a measure of policy effectiveness", a group of academics has warned.
A discussion paper has been published online by Professor John Salt and Dr Janet Dobson from the Migration Research Unit at University College London. The report looked into the progress towards the target since the coalition Government was formed in 2010.In the paper, the authors said: “We have serious doubts that the net migration target is either a useful tool or a measure of policy effectiveness and we believe that recent experience provides a number of lessons for future migration policy, both in the UK and internationally."
Net migration to the UK is calculated as the difference between the number of people entering the country and the number leaving. The target applies to all immigrants and emigrants, including British citizens and those from other countries in the European Economic Area (EEA).The paper argues that “damage" has already been done by actions to cut work-related, student and family migration including to the UK's reputation as a good place to work and study.
It adds: "Too much of the debate about international migration in the UK is about 'immigrants' as an undifferentiated group, without getting to grips with who 'they' are, why they come, the jobs they do, the contribution they make and the length of time they stay.
The paper concludes that the target is something over which the Government has much less influence.