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Illegal migrant crackdown 'should target informal projects'

Civils firms have called for the promised government crackdown on illegal workers to target small projects.

Immigration minister James Brokenshire today warned of raids on construction sites as part of a concerted effort to reduce the number of illegal migrants to the UK.

But Civil Engineering Contractors Association chief executive Alasdair Reisner said the trade body’s members already worked hard to prevent illegal working on their sites.

“Clearly, as one of the largest sectors of the UK economy, the construction industry is a potential target for migrants, both legal and illegal, seeking work,” said Reisner.

“As such, over many years, contractors have built up systems to assess the immigration status of those working on their sites. While it is vital to avoid complacency, we believe that our members are working hard to ensure the correct status for all employees.

“We hope that any crackdown will focus on the more informal end of the market, where fewer checks are carried out by less diligent employers who fail to live up to their requirements under UK immigration and employment law.”

Immigration minister James Brokenshire said the crackdown would hit employers “from all angles”.

“Rogue employers who give jobs to illegal migrants are denying work to UK citizens and legal migrants and helping drive down wages,” Brokenshire said.

“Experience tells us that employers who are prepared to cheat employment rules are also likely to breach health and safety rules and pay insufficient tax.

“That’s why our new approach will be to use the full force of government machinery to hit them from all angles and take away the unfair advantage enjoyed by those who employ illegal migrants.”

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