Opinion Former Article

FSB says Government, not business, should police immigration.

The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) has called on the Government to recognise the difficulty that small firms have when working within existing laws relating to illegal workers. This call comes as the Government's consultation period into the prevention of illegal working comes to a close.

Small businesses do not have Human Resources departments, the personnel function is carried out by the owner who often does not have the relevant expertise or sufficient time to devote to the task. Furthermore, small businesses already spend an average of 28 hours per month filling in forms for the Government. Businesses also run the risk of being accused of discrimination if they are too rigorous with their nationality checks.

The FSB is therefore calling on the Government to ensure workers are legal through their own mechanisms, such as when issuing National Insurance numbers. This proposed solution ensures that the Government polices immigration and businesses get on with generating a profit and providing much-needed jobs.

The consultation closing date is today, the seventh of August.

Alan Tyrrell, FSB Employment Chairman, said:

"The Government is right to want to prevent illegal workers and to punish businesses that knowingly employ them. These unscrupulous businesses undercut honest firms by doing so. However, border security and immigration is a role that should be carried out by the authorities, not delegated to businesses.

"It is not right that businesses are asked to become pseudo-immigration officials by the Government. Small business owners have enough to do just to keep their business afloat without performing an essential function of Government as well.

"Our proposal ensures that small businesses can get on with employing over 12 million people and generating half of UK GDP. Taxes on this activity pay for the Government to police our borders and they should take this activity seriously, rather than seek to dump the responsibility on employers."

ENDS

Notes to Editors:

1. For a copy of the full consultation response please e-mail lucie.goodman@fsb.org.uk
2. The FSB is Britain's biggest business organisation with over 205,000 members. It exists to protect and promote the interests of the self-employed, and all those who run their own business. More information is available at www.fsb.org.uk.

Contacts:

For interviews with FSB Chief Spokesman Stephen Alambritis or other senior FSB personnel please contact the FSB Press Office.

FSB Press Office

Matthew Knowles: 020 7592 8113 / 07917 628991
Belinda Webb: 020 7592 8121 / 07825 125 695

For regional FSB contacts please go to www.fsb.org.uk/regions

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