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Bosses who hire illegal migrants to be fined £60,000 per person, with landlords risking payments of £20,000
7 August 2023, 05:31
Employers who hire people who have come to the UK without proper authorisation are to be hit with much higher fines than before, as ministers try to crack down further on small boat crossings.
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"Unscrupulous" landlords who rent rooms to migrants who are in the UK illegally will also see fines increase sharply, the government said.
Fines for employers will go up to a maximum of £45,000 per worker for a first offence and £60,000 for repeat offenders - tripling the current punishment, which was set in 2014.
Landlords face fines going from £1,000 per tenant to £10,000, with repeat breaches going from £3,000 to £20,000. Penalties relating to lodgers will also increase.
The new rules will be in place from early next year, with the law changing next year.
Ministers said that he bigger fines reflected the fact that "illegal working and renting are significant pull factors for migrants crossing the Channel".
Immigration minister Robert Jenrick said: "Making it harder for illegal migrants to work and operate in the UK is vital to deterring dangerous, unnecessary small boat crossings.
"Unscrupulous landlords and employers who allow illegal working and renting enable the business model of the evil people smugglers to continue.
"There is no excuse for not conducting the appropriate checks and those in breach will now face significantly tougher penalties."
Opposition parties said the government wasn't doing enough to deal with the problem of small boat crossings.
Shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper said that penalties issued to firms employing workers illegally had fallen under the Tories by two-thirds since 2016 while arrests have dropped too.
"Strengthening penalties must be combined with stronger enforcement action if the Government is serious about tackling the problems," the Labour MP said.
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Liberal Democrat home affairs spokesman Alistair Carmichael added: "Every day the country is subjected to another pointless announcement on the asylum system which will make no meaningful difference.
"A bolder fix is required by ministers, yet they are too arrogant to admit it."
It comes as ministers are said to be drawing up new proposals to send illegal migrants some 4,000 miles to Ascension Island in the Atlantic Ocean as an alternative to the Rwanda scheme.
Meanwhile the first group of 50 asylum seekers could be housed on the Bibby Stockholm barge as soon as Monday.