Business could suffer if migrants leave

SCORES of businesses across East Anglia could be forced to close if urgent action is not taken to stop migrant workers from leaving the region it has been warned.

SCORES of businesses across East Anglia could be forced to close if urgent action is not taken to stop migrant workers from leaving the region it has been warned.

East of England Development Agency researchers have urged landlords and local authorities to improve housing conditions for migrant workers as an incentive to keep them in the area where they contribute £360m to the local coffers annually.

It is estimated that of the 85,000 eastern European labourers who have arrived in East Anglia since 2004 around half have already returned to their home countries.

There are additional concerns that the London Olympics, which require 182,000 builders to complete construction works in the capital by 2012, will suck more foreign workers out of the region.


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Richard Hirst, chairman of the NFU's horticulture board, said farming was in serious danger of losing millions of pounds this year if the issue is not addressed immediately.

He said: “The UK's soft fruit is just starting and workers have not come forward as we've expected.

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“I'd be absolutely flabbergasted if we do not have crops left behind this year because people can't get enough labourers. We're trying to find evidence of crop losses this year. Last year it was bad enough. We've got evidence that several million pounds worth of crops were left behind because there were not enough people to pick them. The millions of pounds that were left behind last year will be small fry compared with the potential losses incurred this year. ”

Under government plans around 500,000 houses are expected to be built in East Anglia by 2021. However, researchers at EEDA said unfilled gaps in the construction industry resulting from the departure of migrant workers could hinder any plans for growth.

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