Critics take aim at IDS and his 'jobs for Britons'

Iain Duncan Smith came under fire from business leaders and lawyers yesterday for urging employers to give jobs to young Britons in preference to migrant workers.

The Work and Pensions Secretary delivered a provocative plea for companies to "give our young people a chance" rather than recruiting foreign-born staff. He also suggested that high levels of immigration were hampering attempts by the Government to tackle levels of long-term joblessness.

Critics suggested that companies risked discrimination claims if they acted on his words and he ignoredthat ministers are powerless to stop EU nationals, who constitute most migrant workers, heading to Britain.

David Frost, the director-general of the British Chambers of Commerce, was scathing about the qualities of some young British job-seekers. He said employers often found they lacked basic skills, qualifications and a strong work ethic. He added: "There is a stream of highly able Eastern European migrants who are able to fill those jobs. They are skilled, they speak good English and, more importantly, they want to work."

Neil Carberry, the CBI director for employment policy, said: "Employers should choose the best person for the job. The challenge is to ensure that more young Britons are in a position to be the best candidate."

Paul Griffin, the head of employment law at DBS Law, said firms could face discrimination claims if they favoured British candidates over foreigners entitled to work in this country. He added: "Iain Duncan Smith's speech, while on the surface seeming positive, is actually a crude political act to scapegoat migrant workers for a lack of jobs."

Mr Duncan Smith's comments, delivered in Madrid to a right-wing Spanish think-tank, carried echoes of Gordon Brown's ill-fated call in 2007 for "British jobs for British workers".

The Work and Pensions Secretary said tougher border controls were essential to support attempts to get young Britons off benefits. "Controlling immigration is critical or we will risk losing another generation to dependency and hopelessness. As we work hard to break welfare dependency and get young people ready for the labour market we need businesses to play their part and give them a chance, and not just fall back on labour from abroad."

Mr Duncan Smith received strong backing from the Labour former minister, Frank Field, an adviser to the Government on child poverty. Mr Field said: "The crucial thing is that Iain Duncan Smith is speaking for the vast majority of people in this country."

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?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive or Senior Sales Executive - B2B Exhibitions

£18000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Sales Executive or Senior Sal...

Recruitment Genius: Head of Support Services

£40000 - £55000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Warehouse Team Leader

£22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This industry leading company produces h...

Recruitment Genius: Business Development Manager / Sales - OTE £40,000

£20000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This IT provider for the educat...

Day In a Page

A nap a day could save your life - and here's why

A nap a day could save your life

A midday nap is 'associated with reduced blood pressure'
If men are so obsessed by sex, why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?

If men are so obsessed by sex...

...why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?
The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3

Jon Thoday and Richard Allen-Turner

The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3
The bathing machine is back... but with a difference

Rolling in the deep

The bathing machine is back but with a difference
Part-privatised tests, new age limits, driverless cars: Tories plot motoring revolution

Conservatives plot a motoring revolution

Draft report reveals biggest reform to regulations since driving test introduced in 1935
The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

The honours that shame Britain

Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

International Tap Festival comes to the UK

Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border
Doris Lessing: Acclaimed novelist was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show

'A subversive brothel keeper and Communist'

Acclaimed novelist Doris Lessing was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show
Big Blue Live: BBC's Springwatch offshoot swaps back gardens for California's Monterey Bay

BBC heads to the Californian coast

The Big Blue Live crew is preparing for the first of three episodes on Sunday night, filming from boats, planes and an aquarium studio
Austin Bidwell: The Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England with the most daring forgery the world had known

Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England

Conman Austin Bidwell. was a heartless cad who carried out the most daring forgery the world had known
Car hacking scandal: Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked

Car hacking scandal

Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked
10 best placemats

Take your seat: 10 best placemats

Protect your table and dine in style with a bold new accessory