HR & Employment Services
South West Councils
About the issue
The South West is, and always has been, an attractive destination for many migrant workers seeking employment, and the number of migrants working in the region has increased considerably since the first round of EU enlargement in 2004.
Migrant workers, vital to the performance of certain sectors, are helping to bring greater economic prosperity to the region and, since they pay taxes but receive relatively low support from public and welfare services, are net contributors to the public purse. However many migrants suffer a number of disadvantages in the labour market and when accessing local services.
The South West Migrant Worker Forum is a group of Local Authority representatives and regional stakeholders which was brought together by the South West Councils.
The group was formed to gather information, share experience and best practice and to enable co-operation at a regional level, on issues surrounding migrant workers. It reports to and works under the South West Regional Co-ordination Board for Migration.
Key Issues for the Forum include:
- The collation of reliable data and management information
- Ensuring greater access to public services for migrant workers
- Lobbying to ensure that Local Authorities and other local and regional public agencies are properly resourced to cope with the increased demand for services from migrant workers
- Increasing the benefit of migrant workers to the region’s economy
- Combating the exploitation of migrant workers from unlicensed ‘gangmasters’ and employment agencies
- Ensuring that migrant workers have a voice in regional policy making
Past work areas have included:
- A survey of South West Local Authority awareness and activity around the issue
- A report on the impact of migration on South West schools
- A submission to the Migration Impacts Forum’s Survey of regional challenges which informed a national report
- A letter to the Home Office calling for an expansion of the remit and funding of the Gangmasters Licensing Authority to better combat exploitation of migrant workers
- Collecting and collating a catalogue of research and best practice
Membership and terms of reference
Membership of the forum includes Local Authority officers, South West TUC, Equality South West, Migrant Worker representatives and public agencies such as the Citizens Advice Bureau and Jobcentre Plus. The group is currently being established on a more formal basis and its terms of reference and membership are currently under review.
The forum is currently chaired by Nigel Costley.