Let inmates fill staffing shortages: Dominic Raab wants firms who are short of workers to hire PRISONERS to plug the gaps
Prisoners should be hired by companies which are suffering from severe staff shortages, the new Justice Secretary has suggested.
Dominic Raab said that some of the record one million job vacancies across the UK could be filled by offenders who are allowed out on day release or have just finished their jail sentences.
He claimed that the radical move could help society as well as the economy – and aid the new employees in turning their backs on a life of crime.
Officials are set to contact firms desperate for fruit-pickers or food factory workers to convince them to hire more offenders.
Dominic Raab (pictured) said that some of the record one million job vacancies across the UK could be filled by offenders who are allowed out on day release or have just finished their jail sentences
Mr Raab, who lost his job as Foreign Secretary earlier this month after going on holiday as Afghanistan fell to the Taliban, told The Spectator: ‘We’ve been getting prisoners and offenders to do volunteering and unpaid work.
‘Why not – if there are shortages –encourage them to do paid work where there’s a benefit for the economy, benefit for society?’ He went on: ‘If you give people skin in the game, give them something to lose, if you give them some hope, they’re much less likely to reoffend.’ Mr Raab also said he backed the idea of asylum-seekers being allowed to work while their claims were being processed.
Latest figures show that more than 33,000 would-be refugees waited more than a year to find out if they could stay in the UK, but current laws ban them from taking paid work during that time.
Asked if they should be allowed to have jobs – which would be a matter for the Home Office rather than the Ministry of Justice – Mr Raab replied: ‘I would be open-minded about it.’ Mr Raab is the son of a Czech refugee and his wife is from Brazil, but he said that the ‘big challenge with migration’ is that in Britain ‘we just don’t integrate people well enough’.
Officials are set to contact firms desperate for fruit-pickers or food factory workers to convince them to hire more offenders (stock image)
‘If they learn the language and they can work, they integrate much better and they make a positive contribution,’ he claimed. However he rejected Labour’s call to give 100,000 migrants visas to help solve the acute shortage of lorry drivers. ‘It leaves us reliant in the long term on the predicament of cheap labour coming in from abroad.
‘What that will do is depress wages for aspirational working class people in this country.’
He said that to solve the labour shortage, Britain needed to look at the ‘quality of life’ and ‘wage levels’ of the people who we rely on.
‘If not, you’re just doubling down on cheap labour from abroad.’ His comments come as companies continue to struggle to find enough staff.
The Office for National Statistics recently revealed job vacancies had risen above one million for the first time in the three months to August.
The Justice Secretary claimed that the radical move could help society as well as the economy – and aid the new employees in turning their backs on a life of crime (stock image)
The biggest gaps are in hotels, pubs and restaurants, formerly filled by young Europeans who have returned home either as a result of Brexit or lockdown.
There is also an unprecedented staffing crisis in elderly care caused by the pandemic, low wages and tougher immigration rules.
Panic-buying of petrol and empty supermarket shelves have become common in recent weeks as a result of a lack of HGV and fuel tanker drivers, prompting the Government to introduce 5,000 temporary visas in the run-up to Christmas.
Because of the training requirements and a backlog of licence applications, it is unlikely any prisoners out on day release would be able to become lorry drivers.
Offenders are more likely to be hired to carry out jobs that require basic skills and so can be taken on immediately, such as picking fruit and vegetables or packing boxes.