Although there is still “considerable uncertainty” over how Brexit will affect the UK’s economy, it is still likely immigration will account for nearly half the country’s population growth up to 2021.
The OBR forecasts that net migration will fall from the 273,000 officially recorded in the year to September 2016 to 226,000 in 2018, 207,000 in 2019 and 196,000 in 2020.
The figure for 2020 is still almost double the government’s target of “tens of thousands”, first promised back at the 2010 General Election and renewed countless times.
The real number may be much higher, however, as the immigration figures fail to take into account many short-term workers.
Had they been included, the real immigration figure would have been more than double what was originally claimed.
Once the UK has left the European Union, the government will likely have the power to control this type of immigration; however, it remains to be seen whether it will have the political will.
The OBR also said that migrants would make up three-quarters of new jobs over the coming years, raising fears that lower-skilled Brits will either be unable to find work or will have their wages depressed by plentiful foreign labour.
Figures in November showed nearly 95 per cent of new workers in the UK between July and September 2015 were immigrants.
Lord Green of Deddington, chairman of Migration Watch, said:
This continuing influx perhaps explains why the British people voted for Brexit. It is a sharp reminder that the forthcoming negotiations must get the numbers down.