Fact check: Recent migrants account for a small proportion of the UK population

During the ITV Election Debate on June 13, Nigel Farage said “one in 30 people walking on the street has come in the last two years”.


Figures from the Office for National Statistics suggest this claim may be correct when solely looking at arrivals to the UK.

However, this does not account for the large number of people leaving the country. Migration does not mean an extra person for every 29 already in the UK.

The facts

The latest population estimates from the Office for National Statistics show 67.6 million people living in the UK as of the middle of 2022.

Meanwhile, provisional figures from the organisation suggest 1.22 million people immigrated to the UK in 2023, while 1.26 million did so in 2022.

Combining the figures from both years (2.48 million) means around one in 27 people in the UK (the 67.6 million population estimate divided by 2.48 million people who immigrated to the UK) arrived in the last two years. This figure remains an estimate as there is a difference in when these two figures were taken.

Across both years, around half a million people left the UK, meaning net migration was at 685,000 last year and 764,000 the year before.

When accounting for emigration, this means that net migration amounts to an extra person for every 47 people in the UK – again bearing in mind these figures were taken from different points in time.

In addition, some arrivals will have constraints on the length of time they can stay in the UK. Around 600,000 arrivals in the last two years were for study, with visas that necessitate they must leave the UK at the end of a set period or switch to a different visa.


ITV Election Debate, on YouTube

ONS: Population figures, mid-2022 (archived)

ONS: Long-term international migration, year ending 2023 (archived page and data download)

ONS: Reasons for international migration (archived)

Election Check 24
Election Check 24