Reports from recruiters about possible illegal workers are sometimes being ignored by the Immigration Service, it is claimed today.
Recruitment agencies have warned that when they pass on concerns about false papers, the government response is often that nothing can be done because of a lack of resources.
A survey of 432 members of the Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC), carried out with the BBC, reveals that 77% have seen identity papers and work permits they suspect to be false.
About three in 10 agencies found the Immigration Service’s reporting system unhelpful and nearly half (47%) felt that decisive action was not taken on the matter.
Marcia Roberts, acting chief executive of the REC, said: “The Home Office needs to fulfil its side of the bargain if it expects greater reporting of suspected illegal workers from businesses.
“It is clear that REC members currently have no confidence in the immigration system – our members have given numerous examples of these reports not being followed up.”
At a time when the government is considering greater penalties against employers who use illegal workers, it is paramount that they support the majority of employers who want to employ people correctly, Roberts said.
“Current inaction by the Home Office clearly undermines the reporting systems and can also put REC agencies at a commercial disadvantage as they are being undercut by unscrupulous employers and agencies who knowingly use illegal workers,” she said.
In a statement, the Home Office said it was doubling its enforcement resources over the next three years and was committed to tackling illegal working.
But it said resources and operations always had to be prioritised to maximise the number of people removed and for public protection.