Home from home?
Experiences of migrant workers in rural parts of the UK, and the impact on local service providers
Migrant workers are perceived to be an urban phenomenon. In reality they make a huge contribution to the rural economy, often filling posts where there is no suitable local labour. Without this labour force, many businesses would not be able to work at full capacity and may even look at relocating overseas to remain competitive1. In the East of England alone, the revenue gains from migrant workers have been estimated at £360 million2. Unfortunately many of these workers are exploited and the victims of discrimination by their employers, landlords and the wider community.
This report looks at the changing trends in the use of migrant workers in rural areas and the types of issues which they face. The report goes on to identify the challenges for rural service providers and makes recommendations for Government. These include support for agencies working with migrant workers in rural areas and Government action to ensure compliance with statutory workplace rights through the establishment of a Fair Employment Commission. Such a Commission should be able to take effective enforcement action against rogue employers and employment agencies. This would lead to a reduction in exploitation and discrimination.
Citizens Advice will be looking to work with Government to see if we can find ways to take the migrant worker agenda forward. Rural Citizens Advice Bureau are adapting their services to overcome the challenges that as service providers, they face when working with migrant worker communities. Some of these are described in the report Supporting migrant workers in rural areas, a guide to Citizens Advice Bureaux initiatives. Hopefully, with central Government support we can ensure all low paid workers are no longer the victims of exploitation and discrimination.