The true plight of migrant workers

By Simon Barrow
November 1, 2007

As the debate on migration continues, Jon Cruddas argues that it needs to be located in relation to population change, service provision, housing, employment/the economy and global factors.

"We have a real problem when public investment does not follow population change, and too often those changes are off the state's radar. Local services find their funding dependent on an out-of-date census that no longer reflects the real population they serve. Creating more reliable and equitable systems to match provision to need would be genuine modernisation, but perhaps less likely to yield approving tabloid headlines in the morning.

'[David] Cameron was... correct to highlight housing as a particular problem. Unfortunately, his [recent] speech treads dangerous territory in implying a simplistic link between housing shortages and net immigration. The lack of council housing is largely due to the refusal of successive governments to allow councils to replace stock sold under the right to buy with new build. His plan to set an undefined limit on non-[European Economic Area] immigration would have a negligible impact on demand for social housing- there are already 1.6 million on the allocation and transfer lists. Instead, we need to dramatically boost the supply of low cost social housing for rent.

"... Migrant workers, regularly employed illegally, provide a ready pool of labour - often as temporary and agency workers. The solution is to ensure that basic rights at work are extended to those workers and properly enforced; to stop the race to the bottom of the labour market.

"...[A] cap on inward migration with no figure attached and with only non-EEA migrants (about a fifth of the annual total) subject to any restriction is hardly the policy of a potential government."

The whole piece is here:

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