28 Aug 2013

400,000 foreigners on benefits: British welfare for British people

The number of foreign nationals claiming benefits such as Jobseeker’s Allowance has jumped by 40% in just four years to more than 400,000, new government figures have disclosed.

New figures showed there were 407,000 non-UK nationals receiving the hand-outs last year, a rise of more than 118,000 since 2008, with the total bill running to hundreds of millions of pounds a year.

Data from the DWP, released under the Freedom of Information Act, showed a sharp rise in the number of claims by immigrants from eastern European countries.

Just 12,600 were claiming work benefits in 2008 but this increased nearly fourfold to just under 50,000 last year, when people from Poland and seven other eastern European countries which joined the EU in 2004 gained full access to the benefits system.

Disclosure of the government figures comes amid growing concern that Britain will face a new wave of eastern European immigration with the relaxation of border controls on Romanian and Bulgarian workers on January 1.

The figures provide a snapshot of claims in February last year and will be updated in a new set of immigration figures due to be published on Thursday. Based on upward trends over the last four years they are expected to show an even larger number of foreign claimants.

Sir Andrew Green, chairman of Migrationwatch UK, said:
It is very striking that claimants from Poland and the other new eastern European member states have increased by nearly three quarters in just one year since they gained the same access to the UK benefit system as British citizens. Furthermore, these latest figures do not include working tax credit or housing benefit for which most East Europeans, being low paid, would qualify.
It's hardly surprising, though.

Matthew Sinclair, chief executive of the Taxpayers’ Alliance, said:
It’s concerning that the bill for these benefits has ballooned so much in the last few years. It’s particularly troubling at a time when politicians have talked of making work pay and cutting the bloated welfare budget. Benefits must be simplified to protect taxpayers and ensure help reaches those who really need it.
Well, yes, but that's not the issue. British welfare for British people.

The new benefit claimant figures also showed there were 102,000 claimants from Africa last year and 132,000 from Asia and the Middle East.

European claimants - including eastern European nationals - made up the largest group, at nearly 139,000.

The figures mean one in 14 people claiming “in-work” benefits were foreigners, although some will have taken British citizenship since first registering.

The benefits covered by the new figures include some available to immigrants who have never worked in this country.

Some types of disability benefit and means-tested Jobseeker’s Allowance will be available to new arrivals who have never held a job in Britain, while other payments will be made to immigrants who have paid two years’ National Insurance. Also included are lone parent benefits and carer's allowance.

Crucially, the new figures do not include all types of welfare hand-outs.

For example, child benefit payments which EU residents are entitled to claim even if their children live abroad are not included. According to latest figures the taxpayer foots the bill for payments to 40,000 children overseas at a cost of £36 million a year. Tax credits and housing benefit are also excluded from the total.

Dr Scott Blinder, of the Migration Observatory at the University of Oxford, said the increase came “partly from population growth but also partly from claims being made at a higher rate”:
From 2008 to 2011, for example, the foreign-born population grew by 12%, while in about the same time span there was a 25% rise in claims made by people who were non-UK nationals. The biggest increase in claims in this period came in the wake of the credit crunch and onset of recession in late 2008, as one might expect. People from EU accession countries showed the largest percentage increase in claims, with nearly a four-fold increase since 2008. Still, it is worth noting that this group made up less than 1% of total working age benefit claims in February 2012, while accounting for 2% of the UK population according to 2011 Census data.”
Earlier this month figures showed the number of Romanian and Bulgarian nationals working in this country rose by more than a quarter in three months, even before restrictions on their right to work are lifted next year.

Migrant workers from Romania and Bulgaria numbered 141,000 at the end of June, a rise of nearly 26% on the 112,000 recorded at the end of March. The figure was up 35% year-on-year.

Last month a report by the Office for Budget Responsibility said Britain may need millions more immigrants over the next 50 years to reduce the “unsustainable” pressure that the ageing population is putting on the economy. The report found that allowing more than 140,000 immigrants into Britain a year, equivalent to 6 million people over the period covered by the reserach, would help increase the overall number of people who are in work and improve public finances.

David Cameron has pledged to reduce the levels of immigration into Britain to “tens of thousands” during this Parliament. But of course Lord Snooty wasn't including immigrants from the EU. Last year the number of immigrants dropped by 89,000 to 153,000.

In June Iain Duncan Smith announced plans to restrict foreign citizens' access to benefits unless they have paid tax here. A DWP spokesman said:
It is important that we protect the integrity of the British benefits system and make sure it is not abused, which is why we tightening our rules to ensure genuine workers and jobseekers get support, but not people who come to this country to take advantage. We are also currently working with our counterparts across Europe to address the concerns we have about the abuse of free movement.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

In my job I'd estimate that a third of claims are from people from abroad.

However, Somalians can put Black British on claim forms, Pakistanis - British Asian, so God knows the real figures.