John Redwood argues the problem with cheap labour carrying out tasks with insufficient training and investment is they put extra costs on the taxpayer.
Some businesses claim they cannot operate unless they can invite in a large number of people from abroad to do jobs for low pay. This can be a dear option for the country as a whole. It also can get in the way of our general aims, to get real pay up, and to get more people into work who are already legally settled here.
When I have been involved with businesses I have usually found it best to pay people well and to give them any training and assistance they need to work smarter. Good executives and directors work to help the company strive for higher quality, better productivity and higher levels of customer satisfaction. That way the company can grow its revenues and afford to pay employees decent pay. A good company values its brand as a good employer as well as its brand as a good supplier. Letting people work smarter means you can achieve what you need to do with without having to recruit so many extra people as you grow. It means you can employ on better pay levels, with all sharing the benefits of higher productivity. Working smarter means putting the right machine and computer power behind the team of people working in the business, seeking to make their jobs both easier and more satisfying whilst increasing output and raising quality. Getting things right first time, proofing systems against error and accident wherever possible, and striving for continuous improvement are well known in modern industry and can be adapted to modern services.
Some say areas like fruit picking will always need plenty of cheap labour to ensure sensibly priced fruit in our shops. Technology is now well advanced with vacuum pickers and other methods to allow machines to pick fruit. There are also better techniques for growing and shaping trees, fruit bushes and strawberry plants to make picking much easier or to allow machine picking. Agriculture has mechanised corn and wheat production and will not set about mechanising fruit and market gardening activity more.
The problem with more cheap labour carrying out tasks with insufficient training and investment to back up the staff is it also places many extra costs on taxpayers. Every time we invite in additional people to take low paid jobs we place an aggregate larger burden on the taxpayers. The studies which show new low paid migrants adding to national income ignore the need to provide GP surgeries, hospital capacity, school places for children, extra social housing or rent subsidy, more road space and train capacity. We want those we welcome here to live to decent standards, so we need to make substantial investments in extra public service provision. If we invite in a reasonable number each year some can be absorbed without building whole new schools, hospitals surgeries and roads. If we carry on inviting in 335,000 additional people every year the investment we need to make in public capital is great. Each new arrival who needs a school place for a child will need around £5000 a year for the running costs of the school place anyway, but if you need to build a new school then the extra capital cost is on top and substantial, at around £20,000.