Sustained immigration has not harmed Britons' employment, say government advisers

Advisers also concluded that immigration had made little difference to crime, housing, hospitals, schools or welfare payments

Deputy Political Editor

Sustained immigration over the last 20 years has not harmed British workers’ chances of finding a job and has only had a minimal impact on wage levels, according to government advisers.

They also concluded that immigration had made little difference to crime, housing, hospitals, schools or welfare payments.

However, the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) said the rapid influx of eastern and central European workers over the last decade had left some councils struggling to cope with rapid population changes.

It said immigration had caused the “composition of many local area populations to alter rapidly” and said such rapid change could provoke friction.

The MAC concluded there had been a “small negative impact on the wages of the low-paid” in some parts of the country with large numbers of foreign workers.

But overall it judged that the arrival of migrants had not had a “major impact” on Britons’ pay or prospects of finding a job.

It calculated that migrants each made a net annual contribution to the public finances of £162, with EU migration contributing £2,732 per person.

Migrants were filling posts in food processing, agriculture and restaurants where employers often found it difficult to recruit British-born staff, it added.

However, the MAC said any future expansion of the Union could put strain on the British economy and jobs market. Eight candidate countries which have applied to join the bloc are home to 90m people earning between one third and a half of average EU salaries.

In a report on the impact of the two million low-skilled jobs filled by foreign workers, the MAC warned they risked exploitation.

It blamed the situation on weak enforcement of the national minimum wage or employers flouting the law because they were confident of avoiding prosecution.

Prof David Metcalf, the MAC chairman, said: “Our flexible labour market has served us well. But vulnerable low-skilled workers, whether British or foreign, need protection.

“There is incomplete compliance with and enforcement of labour regulations, and regulatory resources and penalties are inadequate.

“A typical employer can expect a compliance visit just once in 250 years and a prosecution once in a million years."

He said recent falls in school leavers’ employment levels were concerning, but there was little evidence the drop had been caused by new arrivals from the EU.

The Government was urged by Labour to increase enforcement of labour market regulations as well as improve skills for young British people.

David Hanson, shadow immigration minister, said: “This report is clear that David Cameron's immigration policy is failing. He has spent four years in office failing to stop immigration hitting low-skilled workers and his Government are putting empty rhetoric before real action.

"It’s unacceptable that businesses have a one in a million chance of being prosecuted for not paying the minimum wage and can expect an inspection visit just once every 250 years.”

Labour MP Frank Field said: “This report sheds a small amount of light on what has been blindingly obvious for a long time to people at the bottom.”

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Client Manager

£27000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A growing, successful, friendly...

Recruitment Genius: Property Negotiator - OTE £20,000+

£16000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This family owned, independent ...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - Spanish Speaking

£17000 - £21000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - German Speaking

£17000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Day In a Page

The Greek referendum exposes a gaping hole at the heart of the European Union – its distinct lack of any genuine popular legitimacy

Gaping hole at the heart of the European Union

Treatment of Greece has shown up a lack of genuine legitimacy
Number of young homeless in Britain 'more than three times the official figures'

'Everything changed when I went to the hostel'

Number of young homeless people in Britain is 'more than three times the official figures'
Compton Cricket Club

Compton Cricket Club

Portraits of LA cricketers from notorious suburb to be displayed in London
London now the global money-laundering centre for the drug trade, says crime expert

Wlecome to London, drug money-laundering centre for the world

'Mexico is its heart and London is its head'
The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court that helps a winner keep on winning

The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court

It helps a winner keep on winning
Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

Is this the future of flying?

Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

Isis are barbarians

but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

Call of the wild

How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate
Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

The science of swearing

What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

Africa on the menu

Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'