Thursday, December 18, 2008
5,000 extra workers from Bulgaria and Romania allowed in to Britain as minister increases the quota by a quarter
By Daily Mail Reporter
Up to 5,000 extra more workers from Bulgaria and Romania are to be allowed in to Britain each year to do seasonal farm work, the Home Office announced today.
But immigration minister Phil Woolas confirmed that restrictions on immigration from the EU's two newest member states would not be lifted.
But the numbers allowed in to do agricultural work would be raised from from 16,250 places to 21,250, he added.The numbers accepted for food processing would remain at 3,500.
Workers queue up outside the British Embassy in Sofia, Bulgaria, for visa applications in 2006. The number of people from Bulgaria and Romania allowed into Britain to do agricultural work will rise to 21,250.
'It is essential that only those we need can come here to work and that is why we have decided to continue restricting the work that Bulgarian and Romanians can do here,' Mr Woolas said.
"This is a prudent decision that will ensure the UK continues to benefit from the positive economic contribution Bulgarian and Romanian workers make, while protecting British workers and making sure the numbers coming here are managed in the national interest.
'We have already suspended tier three of the points based system to stop low skilled migrants from outside the European Economic Area entering the UK.'Migrant workers from the eight Eastern European countries, including Poland, which joined the EU in 2004 have full working rights in Britain.
Last year ministers cited pressures on public services as part of the reason why restrictions on the two new countries joining in January 2007 were put in place.
Rising unemployment, which yesterday hit 1.86 million, is likely to have been a key factor influencing today's decision.
Earlier this year Mr Woolas said ministers would cap the population level at 70 million.
But figures released yesterday revealed the number of new arrivals would have to fall drastically to hit that target.
Projections drawn up by the National Statistician showed net migration would have to fall to 50,000 a year to stay below the 70 million mark in the long term. The current level is 237,000 a year.
With 190,000 more people coming to Britain than leaving each year, the population will reach 70 million in 2028.
The increase in seasonal worker permits was welcomed by farmers' leaders.
National Farmers' Union horticulture board chairman Richard Hirst said: 'The decision reflects the compelling evidence put by the industry that there is insufficient seasonal labour to pick and harvest crops.'