European Union migrants will be made to apply for work permit under new proposals

THOUSANDS of migrants trying to get into Britain may have to obtain a specialist work permit, making it easy for authorities to track them when they arrive.

Migration work permit Theresa May politics EU
GETTY     New work permits could stem the flow of low-skilled migrants clogging up Britain’s economy

New proposals could see low-skilled EU migrants, who account for one seventh of the British workforce, forced to apply for a work permit in a bid to reduce the number of immigrants coming to work in the UK.

The proposals come after Theresa May vowed to make curbing net migration – which soared to an all-time high of 300,000 in the year up to March – her “absolute priority” during Brexit negotiations.

Sir David Metcalf, the head of the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC), said work permits would be “pretty straightforward” to implement and would help authorities keep track of exactly how many people are entering Britain each year.

The Office for National Statistics is set to publish figures that show net migration has increased by a significantly higher margin than David Cameron’s former government predicted and the Migration Advisory Committee report found migrants now account for two million of the 13million low skilled workers in Britain.

The plans come after an MAC report revealed low-skilled migrants have put “extra pressure on housing, education, health and transport services”.

Sir David has also raised concerns that a massive influx of low skilled, continental workers could have “possible implications for cohesion and integration” for wider society.

Theresa May immigration Britain

GETTY     Net migration soared to its highest ever levels in the year before March, 2016

Migrants working in retail, construction and food processing are set to be hit by the proposed work permits, as they are not considered “highly skilled workers” according to Government guidelines.

Sir David said: “The agricultural scheme was terrifically well administered, it was one guy at the Home Office working with operators and farmers.

“It was time limited and capped. We could think of similar sectors where you have got a lot of unskilled European labour. That’s very much tied up with what the Prime Minster is interested in.”

Theresa May immigration Britain

GETTY    Construction workers from other EU nations are likely to be those worst affected by the work permits

The chairman of think tank Migration Watch UK, Lord Green of Deddington, said: “It is absolutely crucial that the Brexit negotiations should lead to a reduction in migration from the European Union.

“This means cutting back on low skilled workers whose impact on our economy is at best neutral and who add very substantially to pressure on public services. One idea worth considering is work permits.”

A Downing Street source said: “Reducing the number of EU migrants coming here will be an absolute priority in our negotiation on the Brexit deal.

“There will also be work ongoing to get down the net migration of non-EU migrants.”

The MAC report states: “The main benefits go to labour-intensive employers who often cannot get an adequate supply of UK-born labour.

“Migrants also gain via the higher UK income compared with that in their home country.

“Costs, often focussed in particular locations and sectors, include rapidly changing populations with possible implications for cohesion and integration; extra pressure on housing, education, health and transport services; a small negative impact on wages of low paid workers [and] serious exploitation of some migrants because of inadequate enforcement of minimum labour standards.”

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