New restrictions are to be placed on the benefits immigrants can recieve on first enterring the UK, David Cameron announced last night.
The measures will be put in place to allay public concerns over what has been described as a ‘wave’ of Bulgarian and Romanian immigrants expected to enter the UK when transitional controls are lifted in January.
Writing for the Financial Times, Mr Cameron said: “We need to face the fact that free movement has become a trigger for vast population movements caused by huge disparities in income. That is extracting talent out of countries that need to retain their best people and placing pressure on communities.”
He continued: “It is time for a new settlement which recognises that free movement is a central principle of the EU, but it cannot be a completely unqualified one.”
The restrictions include:
• No newly arrived EU jobseekers will be able to claim housing benefit.
• No EU migrant will be entitled to out-of-work benefits for the first three months. In line with a previous announcement, no EU migrant from January will be able to claim jobseeker’s allowance (JSA) for more than a maximum of six months unless they can prove that they have a genuine prospect of employment.
• A new minimum earnings threshold will be introduced before benefits such as income support can be claimed.
• Any EU national sleeping rough or begging will be deported and barred from re-entry for 12 months unless ‘they can prove they have a proper reason to be here, such as a job’.
MigrationWatch UK has said it expects 50,000 people to come from Bulgaria and Romania to the UK in each of the next five years but the veracity of these figures have been disputed. The Bulgarian ambassador to the UK has said he believes the figure will be much lower – predicting levels of about 8,000.