UK immigrants contribute much, but need more help says report

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Tens of thousands of migrant workers in the UK's East Anglia should be given more help in getting state benefits, according to a new report.

Researchers estimate there are up to 80,000 people in the region from a variety of countries including Portugal and a range of Eastern European nations.

The migrant workers contribute more than £360m to the East Anglian economy, and some businesses rely on their labour for survival.

But the Government and European Union have been urged to make the newcomers better aware of what benefits they are entitled to.

A report by the Working Lives Research Institute - commissioned by the East of England Development Agency - highlighted the need for a "welcome pack" containing information on issues such as working families tax credit and health provision. The institute said councils could improve the way they deliver housing, health, education and childcare facilities to migrant workers.

The report called on the Government to review penalties for employment agencies that unlawfully impose fees on migrant workers.

It added: "The research has uncovered some appalling stories about the number of hours many migrants work, the level of pay they receive and the less than equal treatment they experience at work."