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Migrants mopping up UK jobs?

Published time: September 27, 2011 07:09
Edited time: September 27, 2011 11:09

AFP Photo / Leon Neal

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As spending cuts in the UK force a growing number of people out of work, the few vacancies that are left are mostly going to immigrants.

Jamie Bragginton is among the growing ranks of the unemployed. He has been trying to find a job in social housing since May – but competition is fierce.

"There are around five or six agencies working for each job so you just find there are about 30-40 people getting shortlisted. I’ve had to look at salaries that are slightly less, maybe going back to college, maybe doing something part-time," he says.

Unemployment is now at 8 per cent – the highest for 15 years. But no matter how hard Jamie tries, the odds are stacked against him.

Job centers across the UK have helped fill over 180,000 new vacancies in the last 12 months. But only 8 per cent of those went to British nationals. Foreign workers were more successful in the job market nine times out of 10.

Reversing that trend was a key election pledge of the new government, promising to slash immigration.

However a year on, it has only increased. Net immigration was nearly a quarter of a million last year – up 20 per cent on 2009 and Britain’s second biggest ever annual total. It is way off the government’s five-figure target.

I think they were probably over-promising. Given the restrictions that they face, it didn’t make sense to promise to bring the number down to an arbitrary level. Really, they should’ve been having a more honest debate with the public about the limits on what they could do,” claims Alex Glennie from the Institute for Public Policy Research.

The government claims its target can be met by capping non-EU immigration. But that ignores the fact that most are coming from within the EU where restrictions do not apply.

Entry numbers for Eastern Europeans rose eightfold in the last year alone as the incomers continued to take advantage of the open borders.

It’s unlikely the measures they’ve announced will meet that target. They might come close, but they are unlikely to meet it, so we think further measures are necessary,” claims Matt Pollard from Migration Watch.

Others believe that the problem lies at home.

Priti Patel is a Conservative MP and from an immigrant family herself. She knows what it takes to succeed here – but says most do not.

30-40 years ago, you’ve seen immigrants come to this country. What they want to do is, they want to work hard and get on in life. They really do – they’ve got families to think about, etc, etc. In days gone past, we used to have a tremendous British work ethic in this country and I think we’ve effectively lost some of that,” she says.

As RT’s Ivor Bennett reports, most people at the job centers are migrant workers.

The problem is a lot of British people at the moment are a bit lazy and they’ve got used to not doing the minimum paid jobs and the low paid work so they need to be forced into taking these jobs,” says Jamie Bragginton.

The government claims it is now doing just that: “We are reforming the welfare system to ensure that we end the benefit dependency which has trapped so many people, and finally ensure work pays.”

But while the long-term unemployed can be forced to look for jobs, there is no guarantee they will get them.Like its pledges on immigration, it looks like another promise the UK government simply cannot keep.

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