Trade associations have spoken out against proposals which would force employers to pay for language lessons for immigrant workers with poor English skills.
The government-appointed Commission on Integration and Cohesion said the move would prevent immigrant workers from becoming marginalised members of the communities.
But trade bodies including the Association of Convenience Stores (ACS) are concerned the proposals, which could cost employers up to £600 for each employee sent on an 18-week course, would heap further pressure on to already struggling businesses.
ACS chief executive James Lowman said: "Policymakers cannot view business, especially small business, as a limitless source of funding for social initiatives."
Federation of Small Businesses spokesman Stephen Alambritis added: "Some employers would simply not
be able to provide English classes. Such measures may only serve to prevent immigrants from finding employment here."