Threat to UK's pandemic recovery if foreign workers don't return
The Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) has warned that the UK’s economic recovery from the pandemic could be harmed if immigrant workers who left the country during the pandemic don’t return to the UK.
The watchdog reported that the UK’s population could decrease by up to 2% if overseas workers don’t return, estimating that around 1.3 million immigrants have left the UK during the pandemic. This could cause serious labour shortages and the OBE warned that Brexit could also impact this, making it more difficult for EU citizens to work in the UK.
The report comes as the government faces criticism over the lack of support given to immigrant workers during the pandemic. As a result of the No Recourse to Public Funds (NRPF) Policy, nearly 1.4 million migrants in the UK are unable to claim financial support from the government. This has left many deciding between leaving the UK, or face working in potentially unsafe and unstable conditions during the pandemic. Now, charities are calling for the government to scrap this policy.
A joint letter from the JCWI and 44 other charities has called for the Prime Minister to lift NRPF restrictions, describing how it has impacted immigrants, it said:
“Long before the pandemic, NRPF restrictions have been pushing working families into abject poverty, forcing them into unsustainable debt and into homelessness or unsafe, overcrowded, insecure housing. Since the Covid-19 outbreak, this situation has considerably worsened. UK guidance has been clear on the need to “stay home, save lives and protect the NHS” but NRPF conditions have made this impossible for most migrants and their families. Without support, people are forced to work in unsafe conditions, cannot remove themselves from unsafe housing, and are unable to both effectively self-isolate and feed their families.”
the hospitality, social care, construction and manufacturing industries all heavily rely on immigrant workers and without their return could face significant labour shortages.
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