Migration wonk Jonathan Portes has been trying to get to the bottom of the disparity between official immigration statistics and the number of new National Insurance (NI) numbers issued. It is a crucial point because the rate of new active NI numbers appears to be dramatically higher than the numbers officially coming into the country. So, Portes fired off an FOI to HMRC asking how many new NI numbers issued to migrants are active.
HMRC are refusing to release the data, giving this extraordinary excuse:
“… following the General Election, there is an active negotiation process at an international level in which UK Ministers and officials are engaged to secure support from the European Commission and other Member States for changes in EU law governing EU migrants’ access to benefits in the UK, in line with the Government’s manifesto commitments. The information is being used to inform the development of policy options as part of the negotiation process and therefore relates to the formulation of Government policy. HMRC continues to believe that releasing information in the form requested would, at this stage, be unhelpful to the negotiation process.”
This is shocking on two levels, it is a candid, honest response from a government department and clearly denies voters the finding out the truth ahead of the referendum. HMRC has data on how many new migrants are active in the workforce, yet won’t release it because it would “be unhelpful to the negotiation process”. Releasing data on the true level of recent immigration is only “unhelpful” for the government because the numbers are embarrassingly terrible. Hundreds of thousands of EU immigrants have come from Romania and Bulgaria rather than the “few thousand” the government forecasted…