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U.K. Employers Fret Brexit Would Curb Worker Inflow, Niesr Says

  • Building, food industry might struggle to attract employees
  • Migration Watch says net EU migration may be under-counted

U.K. employers are concerned they’ll struggle to fill vacancies in low-skilled jobs if a British departure from the European Union leads to curbs on migration, according to a report from the National Institute of Economic and Social Research.

Employers in hospitality, food and drink and construction struggle to attract Britons to low-skilled work and are worried that large numbers of EU migrants currently doing the jobs will lose their right to live and work in the U.K. in the event of a Brexit, Niesr said Wednesday.

High levels of immigration are one of the main concerns of proponents of a vote to leave the 28-nation bloc in the June 23 referendum, who argue it is the only way to regain control. In a separate study on Wednesday, the Migration Watch U.K. pressure group said net migration from the EU may have been under-counted by 50,000 a year.

“A large section of the public would like to see significant restrictions on free movement, whatever the result of the EU referendum,” said Heather Rolfe, principal research fellow at Niesr. “But our research with employers in three key sectors leaves no doubt that restricting their access to this source of labor could have significant and damaging effects on many companies.”

Migration Watch carried out its study by analyzing discrepancies between the number of National Insurance numbers issued to eastern Europeans -- an indication of intentions to work or draw welfare payments in Britain -- and official data on immigration and foreign residents in the U.K.

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