August 14, 2023

We must ensure that immigration crime doesn’t pay

We are hunting down the vile, unscrupulous offenders who profit from illegal immigration.

Commenting, Robert Jenrick, Minister of State for Immigration, said:

We are going after the unscrupulous businesses that enable illegal migration.
Stopping the boats demands that we break the business model of the people smuggling gangs. That’s why we passed the Illegal Migration Act, which imposes a duty on the Home Secretary to remove those who arrive here illegally from safe countries like France. It’s the toughest piece of immigration legislation we’ve ever passed and we remain confident in the legality of our partnership with Rwanda as it undergoes legal challenges. In the meantime, we are doing everything possible to deter migrants from making these illegal, dangerous and wholly unnecessary journeys.
We are announcing the biggest shake-up since 2014 on the penalties imposed on rogue employers and landlords who seek to circumvent our immigration rules by hiring or renting to illegal migrants. This represents at least a trebling of the current fines, with employers who repeatedly offend liable for a £60,000 fine, up from £20,000, for every worker they hire illegally. The fine for landlords will increase from £1,000 per occupier for a first breach to up to £10,000 per occupier.
Promising illegal migrants that they can easily work and live in the UK is one of the many lies that people smugglers tell migrants to persuade them to make small boat crossings. The minority of unscrupulous landlords and employers who allow illegal working and renting are therefore enabling the business model of the people smugglers and are complicit in the harm the small boats crisis is causing communities in the UK. It’s only right that the size of the fine matches the severity of the offence – and that’s why we are increasing them by such significant amounts.
Illegal working and renting isn’t just linked to the small boats crisis. Illegal working undercuts honest employers, cheats legitimate job seekers out of employment and defrauds the public purse as illegal migrants don’t pay tax. Landlords that don’t conduct the appropriate checks make it harder for legitimate, hard-working renters to find a place to live.
As we ratchet up fines we are also stepping up enforcement activity so more rogue businesses are getting knocks on their door.
Much tougher penalties
This year we launched a cross-government taskforce to promote strong collaboration on activity aimed at tackling illegal working. Enforcement visits are now at their highest since 2019, are up by almost 50 per cent on last year and we have already arrested more people on immigration enforcement in 2023 than during the whole of 2022.
Earlier this month, Home Office immigration enforcement officers carried out 159 visits to construction sites which resulted in the arrest of 105 foreign nationals working illegally. With our changes, these employers will be handed much tougher penalties which will make it prohibitively expensive for them to offend again.
Let me be clear: the vast majority of businesses and landlords are honest, abide by the rules and comply with our immigration checks. But for the small minority that flagrantly flout the rules, there are absolutely no excuses.
Right to work and right to rent checks are not new, and are easy for businesses, landlords and letting agents to carry out. There are a number of ways to do them, which are not changing, including via a manual check of original documentation and a Home Office online checking system. The online check takes only five minutes. And we have of course put in place additional safeguards to ensure that people with legal status do not inadvertently get caught up in crackdowns or face discrimination.
Sir Keir’s plan to relax restrictions on asylum seekers taking up paid work would incentivise more migrants to make the dangerous crossing and would undercut British workers. Meanwhile, his backbench MPs call for illegal arrivals to be able to work straight after they arrive. It’s astounding naivety from a party that doesn’t have a clue what we are up against and has no plan to fix this crisis.
The British people can be reassured that this Government is doing everything in its power to protect the integrity of our immigration system and punish those who abuse it. We make no apologies for hitting these immigration offenders where it hurts: in their pockets.


Only the Conservatives have a plan to destroy the business model of the people smugglers, punish rogue employers and landlords, and protect legitimate employees and renters.