Debunking business leaders’ claims that Britain will continue to need unskilled EU workers after Brexit, a new study has shown that far from benefitting the UK taxpayer cheap migrant labour actually costs the exchequer more than £12 million a day, or £4.4 billion a year.
Research by Migration Watch UK found “no evidence” that companies require a “continuing free-for-all” access to EU migrants to maintain the workforce in lower skilled jobs, asserting: “Some claims might reflect a desire by employers to continue to offer low pay, poor conditions and little flexibility.”
Asking “how vital are further inflows of EU workers” to Britain’s economy, the paper comes after business groups warned that government plans to slash unskilled migration after Brexit would have a “catastrophic” impact.
“There have been a number of headline-grabbing reports from some sectors about their need for more workers from the EU,” writes Migration Watch UK in the report, which points out there are still more than 1.5 million unemployed in Britain, and over a million part-time workers who want a full-time job.
The paper continues: “Looking behind the headlines, most of what these sectors appear to be asking for is the opportunity to continue to offer low-paying jobs with poor conditions and little flexibility for workers.”
Noting that low-earning work is subsidised by welfare payments, it states: “The true economic cost of employing migrant workers is often overlooked.
“Some employers are, in effect, being subsidised by the taxpayer,” Migration Watch UK points out, reporting that in 2014/2015 the working age benefit bill for EU migrants working in Britain came to £4.4 billion.
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Chairman of Migration Watch UK, Lord Green of Deddington, urged the government take care over claims Britain requires “an endless flow of workers from the EU to fill lower-skilled jobs”.
“Highly skilled workers are, of course, valuable but some employers have been making huge profits from cheap labour, leaving the rest of society to cope with the consequences for housing, public services and the cost of in-work benefits. Brexit must put a stop to this,” he said.
At a Conservative Party conference fringe event in Manchester this week, arch-Remainer Tory MP Anna Soubry declared it “a myth” that immigration has put pressure on public services, because most of the migrant population of Boston in Lincolnshire are “fit, young men”.
Elsewhere in the meeting, the Broxtowe MP, who has previously alleged that people who complain about mass immigration are hypocrites if they enjoy eating chicken curry, said she wanted to see “more opportunities for people to come to our country from those non-EU countries”.