UK plan to seize illegal workers’ wage
Net migration into the UK rose by 50% to 318,000 last year, new figures show. The Office for National Statistics said this was a “statistically significant” rise of more than 109,000 compared with the previous year.
There were increases in both EU and non-EU migration, with the total figure close to 2005’s all-time high.
It comes as the Conservatives unveil new plans to seize the wages of illegal workers as proceeds of crime in an attempt to reduce the numbers.
Prime Minister David Cameron will say it has become “too easy” for migrants not entitled to be in the country to exploit loopholes.
At the moment, firms can be fined up to £20,000 for employing illegal workers.
However, the scale of the challenge facing ministers in reducing levels of legal immigration has been highlighted again by the new official figures on net migration.
The Conservatives pledged before the 2010 election to reduce numbers to less than 100,000, a target they acknowledge they have failed to meet.
Mr Cameron will see first-hand efforts to combat illegal immigration on Thursday when he visits a premises in London shortly after it has been raided by immigration officials.
He will say the government is determined to “control and reduce” immigration, saying criminalising illegal workers must go hand-in-hand with other measures to lower demand for migrant labour, such as boosting the skills of UK workers.
The government says depriving illegal migrants of their wages will make it harder for them to remain in the UK.
A new criminal offence of illegal working will apply to migrants who have entered the country illegally and also those who came to the country legally but are in breach of their conditions or have overstayed.
At the moment, migrants with current leave to remain who are working illegally in breach of their conditions may be prosecuted and are liable, if convicted, to a six months’ custodial sentence and-or an unlimited fine.
But migrants who entered the UK illegally or have overstayed their leave are not subject to the same sanctions, and the police do not have the same powers of confiscation in all cases. -BBC