Government challenged to explain 'incomprehensible' Bangladesh work permit scheme.

August 05, 2004

A scheme to offer 10,000 Bangladeshis permits to take up temporary employment in the UK was described as 'incomprehensible' when at the same time the government's own research shows that more than 40% of young Bangladeshis already here are unemployed. [1]

Think-tank Migrationwatch said the Government had serious questions to answer - compounded by the fact that the process itself has descended into chaos.

'It is incomprehensible that, when there are large numbers of young Bangladeshis already here who are unemployed, it should be thought necessary to issue work permits to many thousands more,' said Sir Andrew Green, chairman of Migrationwatch.

According to the 2001 Census there are just under 25,000 Bangladeshi men aged 16-24 in the UK - of whom the 40% unemployed number 10,000.

'In addition there are absolutely no checks to ensure that permit holders will leave Britain at the end of their time - so creating the perfect conditions for yet more illegal overstaying in the UK.'

The so called Sector Based Scheme was intended to permit unskilled young people from outside Europe to take up temporary employment in the UK in the hospitality and food manufacturing industries for up to 12 months. The quotas for each of the two schemes were initially 10,000 a year, later reduced to 7,500.

Yet in Bangladesh an initial allocation of 10,000 [2] was made despite the extremely high unemployment of Bangladeshis in Britain.

According to the Immigration Advisory Service the quota of applications was filled within three weeks of the scheme starting and the refusal rate is now as high as 89%. Of 2,045 applications received in the last three months only 138 were granted. They continued that "there is chaos in Bangladesh with disturbances, a sports stadium having to be hired to issue tickets for interviews and a complete suspension of the scheme in April.

'Surely the people already here should be offered these jobs, or should be trained to do them, before we add still further to immigration, it simply defies logic. Indeed, it smacks of the Government trying to curry favour in the curry houses,' said Sir Andrew.

'What is more, we now have 75 million new citizens of the European Union, many unemployed, who have the right to come and seek work here. Britain should do what the Irish Government have done and slash the number of work permits - in their case from 50,000 a year to 2,500.

'Instead, this government have nearly quadrupled the number of work permits issued in recent years to 145,000 last year as well as introducing these sector-based schemes,' said Sir Andrew.

1 Social Focus in Brief: Ethnicity 2002 issued December 2002.
2 Immigration Advisory Service press release, July 19, 2004

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