A HAMPSHIRE businessman says he may be forced to fly to Romania to find staff after failing to recruit locally.

Jason Harris, director of the Ringwood-based IMS Group, says his attempts to fill vacancies have yielded only one suitable applicant.

He said: “After emerging from the deepest recession in living memory, many businesses are looking to grow their workforce – but it’s harder than many imagine.

“It’s unbelievable that with 2.3m unemployed I’m having to look to eastern Europe to fill vacancies that UK jobseekers don’t seem to want.”

But Desmond Swayne, Tory MP for New Forest West, accused British firms of being “addicted” to foreign labour.

He added: “At the latest count there were 616 people in New Forest West claiming job-seekers allowance.

“I find it hard to believe that they cannot meet the needs of our local employers. If they can’t, we need to know.”

IMS, a media and publishing company, employs five staff and is looking to recruit another two workers – in telesales and marketing. But job adverts on local and national websites have yielded only one applicant, even though 116 Ringwood residents are out of work.

Mr Harris, who won’t divulge the salary but said it was well above the minimum wage, said: “I haven’t booked my flight to Romania but it’s what I’m contemplating, and if I have to fly there I will.”