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.

George Mc's picture

@ Barry Davies
The thread is about migrants and their use of the welfare system. I replied I was happy that we should apply restrictions and more to introduce balance to my post (before the trolls appeared), I stated
a sincerely held view that we need to review and update our benefits system for our own citizens.
I can therefore only assume that your post is aimed at me.

At no time have I on here, or anywhere else for that matter, supported withdrawing benefits from the ill, disabled or needy. In fact, I have today seen the very unsavoury story of one family (disabled and full time carer) who lost there case in the high court over the so called Bedroom tax. It should be clear to all that some aspects of this law are wrong.

However Barry, I make no apology for complaining about the people who shirk work at all costs:
Who claim benefits and still manage to work.
Unmarried couples who give different addresses, while living together, to gain extra benefits.
Those who claim for Motability when there is little wrong with them.
Those who use Motability vehicles to go to work on a daily basis when the vehicle was given for an elderly relative.
The cost to the taxpayer for the government owned company who run this for 600,000 people is £18.3 million.
I am sure that we are all pleased that the MD of this company gets £825k per annum.

In summary Barry, I have to problem with looking after the needy and infirm but I do draw the line at the piss being taken.

Barry Davies's picture

I was saying much the same thing as you George I wasn't getting at you at all.

Audrey's picture

When over 25% of the British born and bred are claiming benefits (a quarter of the working age population!) and only a little over 7% of the immigrants are doing it, I wonder what is the meaning of all this media spin other than just that... spin...

James 's picture

Well we shall see how England manages if Scotland applies different rules on migration after it votes in the referendum to take its cricket bat away.

Will English migrants be discriminated against in similar ways in an independent Scotland?

In a single market where movement of labour is crucial to economic and social integration, it will be difficult to do what the anti Europeans in UKIP and the other nationalist 'conservatives' in both left and right wish for.

Migration cuts both ways, and just as the Swiss have very narrowly voted themselves into a bind over this issue (they did take over 20 years to negotiate bilateral agreements on a number of EU rules - to gain access to the Single Market), will we gain anything of any worth for a similar outcome, if the current attitude actually gets us out of the EU?

I am glad that Cameron's partners in government take a different view of the world and I look forward to hear what Vince Cable has to say on this matter.

Barry Davies's picture

The basis of scotland seceding would mean that border controls would have to be set up because Scotland would be outside of the eussr and as such would not have a freedom of movement agreement, and even if we continued in the same vein that we did With the Irish the foreigners coming in to scotland would still need to be processed. Another expense the wee fat one hasn't mentioned yet.

Movement of labour is not crucial, in fact government figures show that only 23% of immigrants find for in the UK, which equally means less jobs for British people, so not having it would be a bonus.

The membership of the single market is not that important for the uk with or without Scotland only being 9% of our trade, and it is a negative balance not positive like our trade outside of it.

tricky266's picture

Why can't benefits be set at a level which would be the same as if you were in your 'home' country? In this debate I have never seen this suggested. Surely, if someone is entitled to 'X' this should be claimed back from the 'home' country as part of an EU agreement. Once someone has built up enough employment contributions in this country then they would be eligible for benefits from the UK. I have no aversion to someone coming to the UK for better job prospects but they would have to look at the bigger picture as to whether they could afford to come or not...