Fifth of workers are immigrants

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IMMIGRANTS make up more than a fifth of the workforce in Forest Heath, according to new statistics.

Foreign workers make up 21.7 per cent of the district’s workforce – the 43rd highest regional figure in the country.

Forest Heath finds itself ahead of urban areas such as Birmingham, Nottingham, Bradford and Liverpool in the table.

A spokesman for Forest Heath District Council put the high numbers down to the training of immigrants from the Asian sub-continent in the horse racing industry in Newmarket.

The US air bases at RAF Mildenhall and RAF Lakenheath were a large contributor to the numbers, as well as the Eastern European community found in Brandon that work in the food processing industry.

Chris Baker, Forest Heath’s economic regeneration champion, said the large foreign workforce was good for the area.

“We are a multinational society these days and it’s always been my feeling that if people come across, work hard and pay their taxes, that it’s no bad thing.

“It’s nice to have them here and adds a bit of culture to the area,” he said.

Nearby Breckland, St Edmundsbury, Mid Suffolk and Babergh are all heavily outstripped by Forest Heath as well.

Breckland, who come closest to matching Forest Heath’s figures, is still some way behind on 12.5 per cent. It is 98th in the country.

St Edmundsbury is at 158 in the rankings, with immigrants making up 9.4 per cent of the workforce.

Mid Suffolk is at 215 with 6.8 per cent and Babergh is at 329 with a figure of 3.4 per cent.

Newham in East London topped the rankings with 64.8 per cent of workers being immigrants.

The figures – gathered by the Office for National Statistics – were compiled for a speech by Work and Pensions Secretary, Iain Duncan Smith.