Cameron’s Con: His ‘planned’ rules against benefit tourism are already British law

[Picture: I Am Incorrigible blog - - which agrees that benefit tourism is a non issue and distraction from the UK's real problems.

[Picture: I Am Incorrigible blog – – which agrees that benefit tourism is a non issue and distraction from the UK’s real problems.

David Cameron seems to have created quite a stir with his plan to restrict access to benefits for EU immigrants. Would he have made such a splash if it was widely known that, firstly, benefit tourism is a myth and, secondly, most of his ‘new’ measures are already in place?

The BBC has reported that Cameron is “proposing powers to deport homeless migrants and cut rights to unemployment and housing benefits”. This is simply not accurate.

The ‘proposal’ to stop out-of-work benefits being paid after six months unless a claimant has a “genuine” chance of a job is already enshrined in UK law.

Take a look at the Citizens Advice Bureau website, which states quite clearly: “If you’re looking for work and have registered as a jobseeker at Jobcentre Plus… you will … have to take the Habitual Residence Test [to prove residence in the UK] and prove you intend to settle in the UK and make it your home for the time being. Usually, you can only have jobseeker status for six months. However, this period can be extended if you’ve a genuine chance of finding work.

“If you lost your job in the UK and it wasn’t your fault and you’re still genuinely looking for work you won’t have to take the HRT. This is called involuntary unemployment. For example, you might have been made redundant or your fixed-term contract ended. You must also have been employed for one year before you lost your job, and be now registered as a jobseeker. If you’ve been employed for less than one year you can only keep the status of worker for six months after you lose your job. However, you can keep the status for longer if you show that you’ve a genuine chance of finding work.”

So the plan to stop payments unless a claimant has a “genuine” chance of a job is not a plan at all. It is already taking place.

What about the ‘proposal’ to ensure that new migrants cannot claim housing benefit immediately?

This one’s a little less clear, but the CAB website again comes in handy, where it states: “If you are from overseas or have recently come to live in the UK you may have difficulty claiming the benefit, depending on your immigration status.”

The ‘proposal’ to deport people caught begging or sleeping rough is already part of UK law. The Immigration (European Economic Area) Regulations 2006 allow such deportations on the basis that beggars who are sleeping rough are “not exercising residence rights in the UK”.

The proposal to quadruple fines for employers that do not pay the minimum wage seems genuine – but of course this is not a sanction on European Union migrants at all – it is an extension of a previously-announced plan to toughen penalties for any employer in the UK that fails to pay the minimum wage.

Some might say that the new plan does not go far enough. The maximum fine for transgressors is currently just £5,000; quadrupling it is just £20,000. That’s peanuts to a large firm.

All of the above leaves just one new ‘proposal’ in Cameron’s list – to deny out-of-work benefits to new migrants for the first three months of their residence in the UK.

In all honesty, we should be able to live with that. If a person is coming to this country to work, it makes sense for them to have a job waiting for them – or for them to be able to support themselves until they are able to secure one.

[But it turns out that even this is nothing new. As commenters have stated since the article went up, EU migrants who claim benefits and then move to another country in search of work must fill in an E303 form in order to receive benefits at the destination country. These are issued at the same rates as in their country of origin, for a total of three months only. Failure to find employment in that time means the loss of the benefit or a return to the country of origin. This means Cameron has proposed nothing that is new.]

It is the context of this measure that is sinister. Cameron is implying that EU immigrants are coming here as “benefit tourists” – setting themselves up in the UK to suck down benefits that they do not deserve, with the British taxpayer footing the bill. Evidence shows that this claim is untrue.

Channel 4’s FactCheck Blog made it clear – less than one month ago – that it “found little empirical evidence that the problem existed”.

The evidence shows that “immigrants are generally net contributors to the British economy, paying more into the system in taxes than they take out by accessing public services.

“Migrants from the A8 countries of central and eastern Europe who joined the EU in 2004 were 60 per cent less likely than native-born Brits to claim benefits, and 58 per cent less likely to live in council housing. In every year since 2004 the A8 immigrants had paid in more than they had taken out.”

The blog entry quotes a study from CReAM (the Centre for the Research and Analysis of Migration) which states: “Whereas [European Economic Area] immigrants have made an overall positive fiscal contribution to the UK, the net fiscal balance of non-EEA immigrants is negative – as it is for natives.”

In other words, UK citizens are a greater drain on the state than immigrants from Europe. Between 1995 and 2011 EEA immigrants paid in 4 per cent more than they took out, whereas native-born Brits only paid in 93 per cent of what they received. Between 2001 and 2011 recent EEA immigrants contributed 34 per cent more than they took out, a net contribution of £22bn.

Figures from the Department for Work and Pensions agree with the thrust of this research (although the figures are not directly comparable): At February 2013, 16.4 per cent of working-age UK nationals were claiming a working-age benefit compared to 6.7 per cent of non-UK nationals, and 5.9 per cent of foreign nationals who registered for a national insurance number in 2011/12 were claiming out-of-work benefits within six months, down from 6.6 per cent the year before.

There is no evidence that significant numbers of people come to the UK seeking a life on benefits.

David Cameron has proposed a series of phantom measures to combat a phantom problem.

It might please his swivel-eyed followers, but the rest of us should despair of him.

He is pandering to fantasies rather than working for the national interest.

20 thoughts on “Cameron’s Con: His ‘planned’ rules against benefit tourism are already British law

  1. beastrabban

    Reblogged this on Beastrabban’s Weblog and commented:
    There’s further proof that you should be very careful when reading about stories of mass immigration from eastern Europe swamping us with unemployed scroungers in today’s Private Eye’s ‘Street of Shame’ column. The Daily Mail sent one of their journalists to a poor village, Berini, in Romania. The mail then quoted the local mayor and a Roma (Gypsy) man as saying that half of the town’s population would move to the UK. The Roma man, according to the Mail, also said they’d move to the UK for our generous state benefits, and were looking forward to living in council housing. When the Romanians themselves got to hear of the story, the Romanian press sent one of their people to the village. The mayor and Romany there were insistent that they had been misquoted. The Roma man said that there were in fact only 200 Roma families in the town, of which only 50 were prepared to go to the UK. He said their preferred destination was France. Moreover, it appears that the journo from the Mail had been highly unethical in the way she pursued her investigation. She had asked the local people if they would be prepared to work for her in England. She told them she could give them a job, and provide them with housing, a place at the local school and free medical assurance. If that’s the case, then it’s not hard to see why many would say they would jump at the chance to come to Britain. In short, the Mail asked some highly leading questions, and then altered the answers to follow the paper’s editorial line about immigration. It seems to me that Cameron is deliberately pandering to xenophobia in order to win a bit more popularity, now that 51 per cent of the population, according to polls, believe that the government is only on the side of the rich. So you can expect more of this kind of rhetoric and posturing as the Tories try to attract more people away from UKIP.

  2. Pingback: Cameron’s EU rhetoric is xenophobic hot air | Haywire Thought

  3. Wedding Horses

    Noone can claim benefits in another EU Country without a valid E303 form issued from their own Country. Under EU Law 803/2004, they are only entitled to benefits at the same rate they would receive in their own Country, no right to Housing, tax credits, nor Child benefits are payable under this Law, and after 3 Months the benefits are stopped and if they cannot provide a proof of managing to support themself they will be sent Home. This is how EU Law works and should be strictly enforced.

    1. workshyscrounger

      Two issues got confused here: moving if you are already claiming benefits and moving and then claiming.

      E303 would be issued if you are currently claiming benefits and travel abroad eg to find a job. Then, for the three months you get the benefit at UK rates. If you fail to find employment, you either lose the benefit or come back. This is probably to prevent you from claiming the benefits here and moving to a cheaper country – you would have no incentive to keep looking for employment.

      If you travel abroad, work and then lose the job, you claim benefits on the same rules as citizens of that country. So you cannot apply to claim British JSA eg in the Czech Republic. You have to follow their rules.

      1. Mike Sivier

        Wait a minute!

        So you’re saying that people coming here would not receive UK benefits during their first three months of residence IN ANY CASE?

        So Cameron is in fact introducing NO NEW RULES AT ALL?

        That’s a huge revelation. Thank you both very much for uncovering it!

  4. Mike Sivier

    Nice endorsement for this article on Twitter, from Jonathan Portes, director of the National Institute for Economic and Social Research (NIESR): “What do new benefit rules for EU migrants mean in practice? Not a lot. Very clear explanation by @MidWalesMike… Would also note – as @MidWalesMike says – hardly any of this appears to be new.”
    He added, later: “Deserves wide circulation. Notable that government does not appear to have published anything explaining proposals…”

  5. Kas

    Hi, you have not addressed his proposal of ‘a new minimum earnings threshold’. Cameron mentions it in terms of claiming income support, but he surely means working tax credit? Will this affect British citizens too? For example, the lowest paid self employed people claim the maximum tax credits and the studies have shown EU migrants are more likely than British people to be claiming these in work benefits, whilst declaring themselves self employed. Introducing a ‘minimum earnings threshold’ would means the poorest people being denied tax credit.

  6. Pingback: Mehdi’s Morning Memo: Greed Is Good, Says Boris | Alternative News Alert!

  7. Pingback: 1 December 2013 | Befouled Weakly News

  8. Agnieszka

    Very good post! Thank you.

    The same applies to Cameron’s bold statement of not paying benefits to migrants for the first three months of their stay. Nihil novi sub sole – this is already enshrined in the EU and (thereby) British law.

    Let me quote (to be 100% certain) the Residence Directive (38/2004):

    Article 14
    Retention of the right of residence
    1. Union citizens and their family members shall have the right of residence provided for in Article 6 [up to three months], as long as they do not become an unreasonable burden on the social assistance system of the host Member State.

    I.e. For the first three months of residence EU citizens do not have rights to claim any type of benefits, be it social assistance or social security (contributory or non-contributory).

    Article 24
    Equal treatment
    2. By way of derogation from paragraph 1, the host Member State shall not be obliged to confer entitlement to social assistance during the first three months of residence.

    I.e. a stronger reiteration of point already made in Art 14.

  9. Pingback: Tory Euro flier is a catalogue of failure | Vox Political

  10. Pingback: The Tory Euro threat exposed | Vox Political

  11. Pingback: Cameron’s crackdown on immigrant benefits is just another grubby con | Vox Political

Comments are closed.