Miliband: I’ll make it a crime to exploit migrants

Ed Miliband: 'Entitlement to benefits needs to be earned'. Picture: PA

Ed Miliband: 'Entitlement to benefits needs to be earned'. Picture: PA

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ED Miliband will today pledge to make it a criminal offence to pay lower wages to migrant workers in a crackdown on rogue firms who bring people to the UK on reduced terms.

The Labour leader is to warn that employers who attempt to “undercut pay or conditions by exploiting migrant workers” will face prosecution as part of a law change aimed at abuses of immigration, if he is elected Prime Minister.

Mr Miliband will evoke his background as the son of Jewish immigrants as he sets out tougher restrictions on immigration in a keynote speech.

Labour would ensure that “entitlement to benefits needs to be earned”, Mr Miliband will tell those at the question-and-answer event, as the party toughens its stance on immigration.

Mr Miliband will also restate Labour’s plan to restrict benefits for immigrants who have been in the UK for less than two years.

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However, he will claim that abuse of immigration law is not confined to the welfare system, and will state that exploited overseas workers are being forced to work in the “most appalling conditions”.

Speaking in Great Yarmouth, he will say that workforce wages are being driven down by “rogue employers” bringing in migrant labour on reduced terms.

Labour has already set out plans to increase fines for employers who pay workers less than the minimum wage of £6.50 for over-21s, as well as banning employment agencies from only hiring overseas workers. However, Mr Miliband will pledge that Labour would also make it an offence to pay lower wages to migrant workers.

He will say: “We have all heard the most truly shocking stories of people having their wages stolen, and having to live in the most appalling conditions – exploited because they come here from abroad.

“These practices have an effect on local workers, too. Because when people can be exploited for low wages or endangered at work, it drags the whole system down, undercutting the pay and conditions of people here.

“We have a plan to change this. We will increase fines for firms paying below the national minimum wage. We will close loopholes in agency-worker laws that allow firms to undercut directly employed staff. We will ban recruitment agencies from hiring only from abroad.

“Today, I am announcing that the next Labour government will go further still: making it a criminal offence to undercut pay or conditions by exploiting migrant workers.”

Mr Miliband will go on to claim that Labour has changed its stance on immigration and adopted a tougher approach.

He will add: “People want there to be control of immigration. But control doesn’t stop at the border – it is also about fair rules when people get here.

“Fair rules means that entitlement to benefits needs to be earned. Fair rules means people integrating into communities and learning English.”

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