Eight drivers of change

Eight drivers of change: Migration


Migration, as a driver of change, is not just about relocation from one country to another. It covers decisions about where people base themselves, whether nationally or internationally.

Covid-19 has already been and will continue to be a catalyst for movement from big cities to smaller towns and rural locations, prompted largely by the success and benefits of homeworking and a desire for more space. Ease of access to work is no longer the major consideration it once was for many in deciding where to live, while avoiding long commutes or crowded public transport now seems realistic. Retailers and other service providers are being forced to adapt to this domestic migration. City centres will need to reinvent themselves as fewer workers will work there.

This poses many challenges, both for government and employers. The UK housing market has responded to increased demand for homes away from cities (with Paisley in Scotland, Lancaster and Newquay in Cornwall among the fastest-rising house price locations), and rising house prices in rural areas are already pricing out local residents. Moves to towns and the country will impact jobs in city centres while creating new employment opportunities in more rural areas.

As far as international migration is concerned, the end of the Brexit transition period and the curtailing of free movement rights for EU workers has predictably seen a falling-off of migration from the EU to the UK and a reduction in the number of EU nationals living here. Non-EU migration has only partially compensated for this. UK nationals are similarly affected as their rights to work elsewhere in Europe have been removed, leaving a lucky few to exercise their rights to acquire a second EU citizenship to ease travel and work possibilities throughout the EU. Migration was one of the key motivations for “Leave” voters (see globalisation - Brexit).