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The number of Australians and New Zealanders finding work in the UK has jumped - but they still lag way behind citizens from European Union countries.

New figures from the Office for National Statistics reveal that the number of Antipodeans finding work jumped by 9 per cent year-on-year in the final quarter of 2014. But this is only around half the rate of increase in EU nationals finding work, and way below peak levels.

Figures for the same quarter in previous years show that the number of Australians and New Zealanders finding work in the UK is still down by over 7 per cent compared with five years ago, and down by over 15 per cent since 2004.

The figures for other Commonwealth citizens are even worse. The number of South Africans finding work fell a further 1.7 per cent year on year, and the figure is now a colossal 43 per cent lower than for the same quarter of 2008 - the year the country was removed from the youth mobility visa.

The new figures follow on from a recent campaign aimed at making it easier for Australians and New Zealanders to live and work in the UK. The House of Commons last month discussed proposals made in 'How to Solve a Problem Like a Visa', a report arguing that current British immigration policy favours EU citizens while discriminating against Commonwealth citizens.

TNT Magazine and London mayor Boris Johnson are among those backing the report's proposal for a bilateral mobility zone between Australia and Britain. This would enable any Australian or New Zealander wishing to travel to, live in or work in the UK to get a free visa. The same would apply to UK citizens wishing to work Down Under.

The proposals have the support of many Westminster MPs, but the recent announcement of inflation-busting rises in the cost of visas for Commonwealth citizens demonstrates that there is still a long way to go before the ideas become reality.

"It's encouraging to see more Commonwealth citizens from Australia and New Zealand finding work in the UK but it's clear that more needs to be done," said Ralph Buckle, director and co-founder of Commonwealth Exchange, the think tank which released the report on visas last year.

"These figures are still well below their peak levels and the further fall in South African nationals finding work is deeply troubling. We call on the UK government to adopt the proposals outlined in our report 'How to Solve a Problem Like a Visa' to ensure that Commonwealth citizens wanting to work or study in the UK, and vice-versa, are able to do so."


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Crumbs of comfort as more Antipodeans find work in UK
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