Fines for employers and landlords who allow unauthorised migrants to work for them or live in their properties are to be significantly increased under plans to deter Channel crossings.
Immigration minister Robert Jenrick argued that “unscrupulous” bosses who allow undocumented working assist the people smugglers selling passage in small boats.
Officials expect the hikes in the civil penalties for those who break the rules to be in force from the start of next year after legislation is altered in the autumn.
The Home Office argued that “illegal working and renting are significant pull factors for migrants crossing the Channel” and that increasing fines will serve as a deterrent.
Civil penalties for employers will be increased up to a maximum of £45,000 per worker for a first breach and £60,000 for repeat offenders, tripling both from the last increase in 2014.
Landlords face fines going from £1,000 per occupier to £10,000, with repeat breaches going from £3,000 to £20,000. Penalties relating to lodgers will also be hiked.
Mr 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.”
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.
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.”
Published: by Radio NewsHub