People in Liverpool know that, despite what the Tories say, times are tough. The monthly bills are high, prices are up and everybody has to work hard to make ends meet. David Cameron is too out of touch to realise it – but there’s a cost of living crisis facing the country.
Only Labour can be trusted to help tackle this crisis. As part of that, Labour Leader Ed Miliband has been setting out how he is changing Labour’s approach on immigration – by building an economy that works for working people.
I’m not interested – and Labour isn’t interested – in pandering to prejudice. This is about calling time on the race to the bottom, where exploitation and undercutting of people’s wages are all too common. It’s about saying when there a million young people unemployed, we need to do everything we can to encourage employers to give them a chance.
So what Ed Miliband has done today is to commit the next Labour Government to get employers to give some of those young people the shot they deserve. We’ll require every large firm that’s hiring a migrant worker from outside the EU to offer an apprenticeship, too.
Any company that wants a contract from government is going to have to offer apprenticeships as well.
We’ll put proper systems in place that alert us when there’s evidence that part of our economy is over-dependent on low-skilled migrant labour, as seems to be the case in the care sector. Labour is establishing a taskforce to better understand what’s happening in this area – to examine issues like exploitation, which has seen up to 220,000 care workers paid less than the minimum wage.
And there’s the issue of people’s wages, too. Labour has already said that we would double the fines for firms that are paying people below the national minimum wage. But there is a case for going even further. The maximum fine for not paying the minimum wage is £5,000. For fly-tipping, it’s £50,000. That doesn’t make any sense and we will change the rules so that the maximum fine is £50,000.
Immigration has brought enormous benefits to Britain, from sustaining our NHS to groundbreaking research in our universities. It has played an immensely important role in our history. But it’s precisely because immigration is so important that it needs to be controlled and to work for everyone in our society – not just for some. Under Ed Miliband, One Nation Labour is moving forward with plans to make sure it does just that.