Number of EU citizens living in Leicestershire on the rise despite looming Brexit

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The looming prospect of Brexit has done nothing to deter thousands of EU citizens from moving to Leicestershire, official figures show.

The number of EU citizens living in the county has risen by around 6,000 since the referendum held in June 2016, according to the latest estimates from the Office for National Statistics.

This increase is greater than across the UK, where the number of Europeans rose by 9% in two years on average.

Data shows that the number of EU migrants living in the area rose from 17,000 in 2016 to 23,000 in June.

The greatest rise was among EU migrants from Western European countries, with an estimated 83.3% increase in two years.

European citizens accounted for 3.4% of Leicestershire’s total population, compared with an average of 5.7% for the United Kingdom.

The number of migrants from non-EU countries living in Leicestershire rose, from 10,000 in 2016 to 15,000 in June.

The estimates are based on the Annual Population Survey (APS). They count EU citizens living at private addresses and students in halls of residence whose parents live in the UK.

Students with parents living abroad or migrants living at communal establishments, like hotels or hostels, are excluded.

All the numbers were rounded by the ONS to nearest thousand.

Madeleine Sumption, director of the Migration Observatory at the University of Oxford said: “The number of EU citizens living in the UK has increased since the referendum, but the pace of change is much slower than in the past.

“This is because fewer EU citizens are choosing to come to the UK and more are leaving. The UK has become a less attractive destination.

“Most EU citizens come to the UK for work, and the falling value of the pound means that what they can earn here is now worth less than it was a couple of years ago. The political and economic uncertainty of Brexit may also play a role.

“Changes in nationwide migration patterns are likely to affect different areas in different ways, depending on factors like what jobs are on offer in the local economy and what groups of migrants that area has traditionally attracted.”

Jay Lindop, director of the Centre for International Migration at the ONS, added that non-EU net migration was as its highest since 2004, mainly spurred by Asian people looking for a job or starting their studies.

She said: “Net migration continues to add to the population and has remained fairly stable since its peak in 2016. However, there are different patterns for EU and non-EU migration.

“Due to increasing numbers arriving for work and study, non-EU net migration is now at the highest level since 2004. In contrast, EU net migration, while still adding to the population as a whole, is at the lowest since 2012.

“Decisions to migrate are complex and people’s decision to move to or from the UK will be influenced by a range of factors.”

The ONS estimates that more than 3.7 million EU citizens were living in the UK in June.