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Government consults over immigration reforms

The Government has recently launched a series of consultations over proposals to toughen civil penalties against employers who take on illegal immigrants, and to reduce illegal migrants’ access to free NHS care and rented accommodation.

The proposals will apparently form part of the Immigration Bill, which the Government intends to introduce to Parliament later this year.

Tackling illegal working

With regards to illegal working, the proposals put forward by the Government include:

  • an increase in the maximum penalty to £20,000 per illegal worker, targeted at those employers who repeatedly break the rules;
  • simplifying the way civil penalties are calculated;
  • simplifying the way unpaid penalties can be enforced in the civil courts; and
  • measures to allow recovery of a civil penalty from directors and partners of limited liability businesses following failure to pay by the business.

Helping businesses

The Government has also outlined a number of proposals that it claims will help legitimate businesses, including:

  • reducing the number of documents an employer needs to check to establish a right to work;
  • replacing annual follow-up checks for non-EEA nationals with ones to coincide with the expiry of permission to be in the country;
  • simplifying the operation of the scheme and the guidance for employers; and
  • helping to prevent undercutting by rogue employers.

Announcing the proposed changes, Immigration Minister Mark Harper said:

“This government is committed to taking action to effectively tackle illegal working. Illegal working encourages illegal immigration, it undercuts legitimate businesses by illegal cost-cutting activity, and is often associated with exploitative behaviour like tax evasion and harmful working conditions.”

The consultation on the illegal working proposals will run until 20th August 2013.

Access to NHS care

The move follows the launch earlier this month of two separate consultation exercises, covering proposals to reduce access to both free NHS care and rented accommodation.

The access to medical care consultation puts forward proposals to ensure that non-European Economic Area migrants contribute financially towards the cost of their healthcare.

According to the Government, the proposals are in response to longstanding public concern that the current rules regulating access to health services are both too generous, particularly when compared with wider international practice, and poorly applied.

The consultation, which will close on 28th August, will run in parallel with a separate Department of Health consultation, looking at the vulnerabilities of the current charging regime for overseas visitors in England.

Access to rented accommodation

The Government is also consulting over proposals to create a new requirement on landlords to conduct immigration checks on tenants, with penalties for those who provide rented accommodation to illegal non-EEA migrants in breach of the new requirements.

The Government says that this new requirement will be modelled on existing controls that apply to the employment of illegal workers.

Under the proposals landlords will be required to ask people seeking to rent accommodation as their main or only home to produce evidence (from a checklist of documents) of their permission to be in the UK. Landlords will check this evidence and keep a copy for their records. If a person cannot produce satisfactory evidence, the landlord should not rent accommodation to them.

Civil penalties will be applied if a landlord is found to be renting accommodation to an illegal migrant without having made the necessary checks.

This consultation is scheduled to run until 21st August.

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Contains public sector information licensed under the Open Government Licence v1.0.



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