Plight of migrant workers forced to put up with poor housing through jobs loss fear and lack of English

MIGRANT families are being left open to exploitation by “unscrupulous” landlords in East Cambridgeshire and Fenland, a council report has revealed.

A study into migrant workers living in the district carried out by East Cambridgeshire District Council and Fenland District Council found that many were being forced to put up with poor quality or overcrowded housing through fear of losing their jobs or because of language barriers.

The report, which took two years to complete, also found that there was evidence of workers sleeping rough in garages or at their place of work as well as in caravans and gardens.

Together with neighbouring Fenland, East Cambs has some of the highest concentrations of migrant workers, often employed in agriculture.

The report’s author, Emily Haysom, said: “The groundwork revealed that some of the worst housing in the private rental sector is occupied by migrant workers.

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“Migrant workers are also least likely to complain about living conditions. This may be due to lack of confidence with English language, or a willingness to put up with poor conditions or overcrowding in order to save money. They may also not complain out of fear of intimidation and the threat of eviction.

“Some migrant workers may be housed in tied accommodation where they are extremely vulnerable to eviction and would lose their job if they complained about living conditions.

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“A lack of English language skills left some migrant families open to exploitation by unscrupulous landlords.”

Ms Haysom added: “The project has increased our knowledge on migrant workers and their housing conditions within the district.

“The findings have contributed to developing new and inclusive ways of inspecting problem properties whilst protecting tenants, by identifying priority properties, close partnership working, improving communication, as well as contributing to countywide strategy on migrant workers.”

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