Home Office denies Workers’ Registration Scheme extension was a ‘last-minute’ move

The Home Office has denied allegations that its extension of the Workers’ Registration Scheme (WRS) last week was a “last-minute” decision.

Tough restrictions on Eastern European migrants travelling to the UK were renewed for two more years to prevent a surge in unemployment benefit claims during the recession.

The rules were set to expire at the end of April, but a ruling by the Migration Advisory Committee said the scheme would be extended until 30 April 2011.

A UK Border Agency spokeswoman told Personnel Today there had been plenty of warning that the scheme would be renewed.

“This was by no means a last-minute decision,” she said. “The WRS was introduced in 2004 to help us monitor access to the labour market by A8 accession countries [inlcuding Poland and Latvia], and we have regularly consulted with industry since then.”

But Mark Boleat, chairman of the Association of Labour Providers, said the decision to continue the scheme was based on “flimsy grounds”.

“Not once has the government been willing to have a sensible discussion on the scheme with relevant stakeholders,” he said. “This last-minute decision, without proper consultation with affected parties, will cause practical difficulties for businesses, which have been entitled to assume that the scheme ends automatically on 30 April.”

Tom Hadley, director of external relations for the Recruitment and Employment Confederation, said the WRS would add to the administrative burdens of recruitment.

“We’re particularly disappointed that the Home Office waited until the last minute to make this decision, thus creating further disruptions to agencies who need to plan for this change,” he said.

Comments are closed.