Migrant workers in South Holland are at risk of falling prey to a modern day slave trade because unscrupulous employment agencies are leaving them high and dry.
This shocking revelation comes following a report by the Centre for Social Justice (CSJ) claiming ministers are clueless about scale of UK slavery.
The CSJ investigation It Happens Here discovered a litany of cases where adults and children are trafficked into the UK and subjected to forced labour, sexual exploitation, domestic servitude and forced criminality (which includes benefit fraud, forced begging or pick-pocketing and drug cultivation).
Spalding Citizens Advice Bureau was active in submitting information to protect migrants under the Gangmasters (Licensing) Act 2004 after being inundated with cases of workers being enticed to jobs in the area, forced into unsuitable cramped housing and then being charged all of their wages to cover living expenses.
John Willerby, strategic manager, said: “Exploitation continues but not at this scale. What we are finding now are cases where employment agencies close down and then set up the next day under a new name.
“By doing this workers are being stripped of their rights to money that is owed them, redundancy or maternity pay.”
One Eastern European saw the impact on workers when Agora Recruitment Ltd in the Sheepmarket closed down.
He said: “Workers were really struggling. I heard the company had gone bankrupt. Friends were saying they couldn’t get the money they were owed. They lost wages and holiday pay.
“People still rent rooms in houses because they are never given enough work to save.”
Mr Willerby said: “The concern is that, although problems are nowhere near as bad as in 2004, it will all start again when employment restrictions are relaxed at the end of the year and Romanians and Bulgarians head to the area in search of work.”