by Dayo Laniyan
Prime Minister David Cameron has announced that in November, the amount of time migrants from the EU without job prospects can claim benefits will be reduced from six to three months. These new rules will apply to jobseeker’s allowance, child tax credit and child benefit.
This follows on the heels of an announcement in January that EU migrants would not be able to claim out-of-work benefits until three months after entering the UK, and would only be entitled to Jobseeker’s Allowance for six months if they did not have realistic job prospects. This would include entitlement to NHS treatment, welfare and housing, all in response to the lifting of transitional controls on Romanians and Bulgarians working in Britain.
In an article written by himself in the Daily Telegraph, David Cameron said ‘Our goal is clear: an immigration system that puts Britain first. Achieving that means doing three things: clamping down on abuses of the system; making sure that the right people are coming here for the right reasons; and ensuring the British people get a fair deal.
‘It used to be that European arrivals could claim Jobseeker’s Allowance or child benefit for a maximum of six months before their benefits would be cut off, unless they had very clear job prospects. I can tell readers today that we will be reducing that cut-off point to three months, saying very clearly: you cannot expect to come to Britain and get something for nothing.’
However there is opposition and criticism of these new laws, the loudest voice coming from Labour. Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper said, “We need less talk from the Prime Minister on immigration and more action. Behind the rhetoric the true picture of this government on immigration is one of failure, with net migration going up, despite David Cameron’s promise to get it down to the tens of thousands.’
This is a reference to one of the main goals of David Cameron’s government, which was to reduce the number of net migration from over 200,000 to fewer than 100,000 by the time of the next election. It is also interesting to note the UKIP victory in the European elections in May, which seems to have given added incentive for Cameron to take on the two biggest issues currently: immigration and welfare.
Jonathan Portes, director of the National Institute of Economic and Social Research said, “This is essentially a distraction exercise. Once again the Prime Minister is announcing measures to deal with something that isn’t very much of a problem. It’s interesting to note the government hasn’t published any statistics on how many EU national claiming benefits this will actually affect- everything we’ve seen so far suggests the number is very small.”