The number of people migrating to the UK soared by more than 20 per cent last year, according to official figures released today.
The rise from 198,000 in 2009 to 239,000 last year flies in the face of the Government's pledge to bring net migration down to just tens of thousands by 2015.
Net migration is the difference between those arriving and leaving the country in 12-month period.
'These figures lay bare the legacy of the Labour government,' said campaign group Migration Watch UK' chairman Sir Andrew Green.
'Immigration last year was close to a quarter of a million.
'The coalition Government will have to face down some vested interests if they are to get anywhere near their target of tens of thousands.'
The increase was fuelled by sharp drop in the number of people leaving the UK to live abroad.
Gerard Batten, branded the Government as 'losing the plot' when it comes to the figures.
'The rise of 21% in year-on-year net immigration figures tears a gaping hole in any pretence that this Government has the faintest idea of how to deal with runaway migration,' he said.
'This gives a lie to all those silky promises made by (Prime Minister David) Cameron at the time of the General Election and the thousands of soundbites by Government ministers since then. They have lost the plot.'
Home Secretary Theresa May will be disappointed to hear that the net migration figures have jumped, despite the government's vow to bring it down
He said the rise meant 'that the population of a city the size of Stoke-on-Trent has arrived in the UK in the last year alone'.
'These headline net figures also disguise an even more concerning trend, and that is the transfer of population made clear by the gross figures which show that over half a million - more than the population of Sheffield - have arrived in the last year, while 336,000 have left,' he said.
'The social impacts of this are even greater than the bald figures make clear.
'This Government is afraid of dealing with the issue and it is frightened of talking seriously about the it.'
Shadow Home Office minister Shabana Mahmood accused the coalition of not being 'honest' with the public.
'These figures reveal the gulf between the Government's rhetoric on immigration, and the reality we see in the official figures,' she said.
'Since an immigration cap was introduced by the Government, the number of work-related visas issued has gone up.
'Net migration, the Government's measure for its pledge to reduce net migration to the tens of thousands, now stands at 239,000.
'The Prime Minister said "no ifs, no buts" on immigration, but on the contrary "ifs and buts" sum up the Government's policies.'
She went on: 'The Government is not being honest with the British public.
'They have shown a keen interest in hyperbole around immigration, doing everything they can to make it a party political issue, but they are busy further eroding trust in Government's ability to manage it.'
But Immigration Minister Damian Green defended the figures.
'After almost two years of increasing net migration the figures stabilised in the last quarter,' he said.
'This explains why the Government radically changed immigration policy, from our first months in office, to drive the numbers down with a limit on economic migration and changes to student visas to ensure we attract the brightest and best whilst tackling widespread abuse of the system.
'We are currently consulting on a range of further measures which will drive down numbers further.
'These statistics cover a period before we introduced our radical changes to the immigration system to bring net migration back down to the tens of thousands.'
Ukip's Gerard Batten, left, has slammed the Government for its 'silky promises' about immigration, while Immigration Minister Damian Green, right, says the coalition is working on ways to 'drive down' figures
Matt Cavanagh, associate director of the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) think tank, slammed the figures, saying: 'Politicians shouldn't promise what they can't deliver, particularly on immigration.
'Before the election, Conservatives and Liberal Democrats said immigration was out of control; afterwards, they said they would cut it dramatically. Neither was true.
'Today's figures reinforce how stable immigration has been both before and after the election: the ONS estimate non-British immigration for 2010 at 455,000, compared to 437,000 in 2009 - and broadly stable since 2006.
'Emigration has continued to fall, down over 20 per cent since 2008, meaning that "net inward migration", the Conservatives' chosen target, remains high at 239,000, a 21 per cent increase on 2009.'
NUMBER OF POLISH PEOPLE LIVING IN UK SOARS
The figures released today also showed the number of people granted settlement - known as 'indefinite leave to remain' and requires a good knowledge of language and life in the UK - reached a record 241,000 last year.
This number included those already living in the country, as well as those applying in the last year.
Settlement is decided on a case by case basis, depending on a variety of factors including the applicant's employment status, whether they are refugees or if they already have family living the UK.
The high settlement figure was partly attributed to the number of people being allowed to stay as the backlog of asylum cases was cleared, other figures published by the Home Office showed.
Long-term immigration was 575,000, similar to the levels seen since 2004, while long-term emigration fell to 336,000 from 427,000 in 2008, estimates from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) showed.
Study remained the most common reason for those coming to the UK, with three in four of the 228,000 overseas students who come to the UK to learn coming from outside the EU.
But the number of people heading to the UK's shores for a definite job was at its lowest in more than six years, at 110,000.
And the amount of those leaving the UK for work-related reasons was at its lowest for three years at 179,000, the ONS estimates showed.
Work-related grants of settlement also reached a record last year of 84,000, reflecting high numbers admitted for work five years earlier.
But figures for the first half of this year showed an 8 per cent fall in the number of people being granted settlement, down to 208,000, with falls in both the work and family categories.
A total of 195,000 people were granted British citizenship last year, down from the record high of 204,000 in 2009 but more than double the level of a decade earlier.
The number of people applying for asylum also fell in 2010, but has started to rise again this year with 4,800 applications between April and June.
This is up 9 per cent from the same quarter in 2010, mainly due to an increase in applications from war-torn Pakistan and Libya, the figures showed.
The number of people being removed or leaving the UK voluntarily fell to a record low between April and June this year, the Home Office figures showed.
Just 11,388 people were removed or left voluntarily, the lowest quarterly figure since such data became available in 2001.
It came as an audit showed the huge costs the last government spent on asylum claims.
Labour spent £2million every day on a shambolic asylum system which failed to remove hundreds of thousands of bogus claimants, revealed a study by the MigrationWatch think-tank.
The audit showed how officials spent as much as £10billion processing applications as they struggled to cope with a surge in numbers.
But only one in four of the 660,000 decisions made on asylum claims between 1997 and 2010 led to the applicant being removed.