Britain sets out new test to limit EU migrant benefits


Britain laid out new rules on Wednesday (19 February) designed to limit the access that migrants from other European Union states have to the country's welfare system.

British Prime Minister David Cameron is seeking to curb immigration into Britain in an effort to quell concerns about migrants entering the country to claim benefits, referred to as 'benefits tourism'. The move may also stop voters defecting to the anti-immigration UK Independence Party.

The new test, due to come into effect on March 1, sets a minimum income threshold to determine whether a migrant working in the UK should have access to the wider suite of benefits that comes with being classed as a worker rather than a jobseeker.

"The British public are rightly concerned that migrants should contribute to this country, and not be drawn here by the attractiveness of our benefits system," said Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith.

EU officials have repeatedly criticised Britain for its increasingly tough approach on immigration, which has compounded already tense relations between Brussels and London over Britain's desire to renegotiate its 40-year-old relationship with the EU.

But, Cameron is keen to be seen taking a tough stance on immigration to appease eurosceptic lawmakers in his Conservative party.

He has already said Britain will stop helping jobless immigrants with their housing costs from April, and has brought in new rules to stop EU migrants being able to claim welfare benefits as soon as they arrive in the country.

Under the new system anyone earning 150 pounds a week, equivalent to working 24 hours a week at the British minimum wage, will be classed as a worker. Anyone earning less than that will face further scrutiny to see whether their economic activity falls into the EU classification of "genuine and effective", or instead is classed as "marginal and ancillary".

"These reforms will ensure we have a fair system - one which provides support for genuine workers and jobseekers, but does not allow people to come to our country and take advantage of our benefits system," Duncan Smith said.

Migrants without worker status will be ineligible for housing, pensions and other benefits. The new rules will also apply to nationals from Iceland, Lichtenstein and Norway.



George Mc's picture

And about time. The UK needs to take a two pronged approach:

Stop immigrants from ALL parts of the world taking the Michael.

Stop the abuse of the benefits system by our own citizens. It has been going on for far too long.
Time for some tough love.

Barry Davies's picture

It's about time the UK stopped migrants getting any benefits, they have done it to many needy sick and disabled british citizens so why should foreigners get them so easily?

Ian's picture

The UK

how to bully the poor, the foreign, the weak and the poor.

What a sad place we have become.

The chances of negotiating a new deal are nil as everyone except the Tories see that whether we are in or out of the EU - our businesses have to comply with EU rules or else we lose those markets.

Bully buys of Bullingdon bullying anyone different- and that includes the Scots-it will all come back to bite us where it hurts.

George Mc's picture

@ Ian

Please explain why you believe that restricting benefits to people from outside the country is bullying,

Please explain why trying to encourage a work ethic amongst the unemployed is bullying.

Please explain how the UK can manage to negotiate changes in EU rules if they adopt a defeatist attitude as expressed in your post.

Please explain how Scots are being bullied. As a Scot I seem to be missing something. Help me out.

Please explain how using the tabloid press statement 'Bully buys of Bullingdon' makes it true.

I would say to you that it is easy to accuse people of being bullies etc., etc., when they want to fix a broken welfare system. When you have three generations of the same family living in one house, all on benefits, and who have never worked, then believe me the system needs fixing, for all our sakes.

Barry Davies's picture

I agree with everything Ian has said other than the bullying of foreigners they seem to be the only ones who can get ny benefits these days. Sanctioning people who are to ill to work, or through no fault of their own have been unable to attend a meeting, even if they have told the person in advance that they can't attend, or have had the audacity to ask the job centre fascists for help with their claims, is bullying.