Despite the government's efforts, net immigration to the UK looks unlikely to fall significantly in 2011. If the UK economy continues to recover, we might even expect to see increases in some forms of immigration for work, despite the cap.

Other forms of immigration - such as refugee flows, family migration and the return of British nationals to the UK - also look set to continue at roughly their current levels.

The likely continuation of net immigration at relatively high levels will put further pressure on an already-challenging government policy agenda. Politically, the government can expect to come under fire both from anti-migration groups (if immigration numbers continue to rise) and from the employers, universities and communities who will be directly affected by policy changes.