In reality, hundreds of individuals are arriving in Suffolk to discover they have been conned out of thousands of pounds and are now reliant on food banks. They thought they were coming to our nation to work for a better life.
According to Funmilayo Akinriboya, overseas con artists acting as “agents” are preying on competent employees by promising to provide them full-time positions in the UK when, in fact, no such position is available.
She figures that at least 200 individuals in Ipswich have fallen victim to this fraud, and each one of them paid at least £12,000 for a “agent’s” assistance.
Some others have paid up to £20,000, while others have paid £15,000.
Founder of the BME Suffolk Support Group is Ms. Akinriboya. The organisation holds seminars for black and ethnic minority families all around the county. These consist of food banks, drop-in assistance sessions, community cafés, and youth programmes.
Many victims of this kind of fraud now turn to our foodbank for relief.
“Hundreds of people out there are struggling,” said Ms Akinriboya. Many have managed to find work, but only for a few hours a month – not the full-time positions they were promised, and not enough to survive on.
A skilled worker visa allows people from overseas to come to the UK to work for a government-approved employer.
Some roles are classed as ‘shortage occupations’. This includes many jobs in healthcare.
Businesses and service providers in the UK can submit an application to become sponsors, which will enable them to hire employees from outside.
The worker is qualified for a skilled worker visa once they have secured a “certificate of sponsorship” from a business outlining the position they would be filling in the UK.
According to a Home Office spokeswoman, this scheme was created to allow companies that directly profit from migration to contribute to preventing exploitation of the immigration system.
However, Prema Fairburn Dorai noted that this is not always the case.
The director of Primary Healthcare’s domiciliary service is Ms. Fairburn-Dorai. She serves as the Suffolk Association of Independent Care Providers’ director and chair.
“There was always a risk when the Home Office put carers on the shortage list that there would be sharks out there, waiting to pounce,” Ms Fairburn-Dorai said.
She has heard of a number of ways would-be carers wanting to work in the UK are being taken advantage of, including registering supposed care providers with the government.
“They get their sponsor license, but I don’t think they have any intention of actually providing a care service,” she explained.
“They bring workers over in their hundreds – and then the company folds and they disappear.”
Some agents do work for genuine care providers, but charge would-be carers extortionate fees for finding them work.
“If, for example, I did not recruit directly myself but was going through an agent, I would pay them money for finding me a carer,” Ms Fairburn-Dorai continued. “But I wouldn’t be aware of what they were charging the recruit. It could be anything from £10,000 to £20,000.”
All Ms Fairburn-Dorai’s are employed directly through her, and not via agents. She also provides overseas workers with accommodation for a period of three to four months while they settle themselves in the UK.
However, she added that workers who bring their families over as soon as they arrive leave themselves in a vulnerable position.
With multiple dependents, the need to earn enough money to survive is far more urgent and can create problems when workers find they are not able to earn enough money to support their families.
A spokesperson for the Home Office said: “Abuse of our immigration system will not be tolerated, and we have robust measures in place to ensure compliance.
“We will always take decisive action if employers break the rules, including by revoking sponsor licences when necessary.”