MIGRANTS FLOOD BACK TO BRITAIN
BRITAIN faces a fresh wave of migrants from next Sunday, when rules on benefits are relaxed.
As many as 100,000 people from eastern Europe are expected to head for the UK after May 1, when they will be able to claim up to £250 a week in handouts.
Sir Andrew Green, chairman of the monitoring body MigrationWatch UK, said last night: “This needs to be watched very carefully. Nobody knows what impact it will have.” [LA replies: How about, not “watching” it, but STOPPING it?]
He is particularly concerned about what would happen once similar “transitional controls” on immigrants from Bulgaria and Romania are lifted in two years’ time, with fears that Roma people would race to take advantage.
Immigrants from eight countries—including Poland and Hungary, which joined the European Union in 2004—will get automatic rights to Jobseeker’s Allowance, housing and council tax benefit. Rules that prohibit eastern bloc migrants from accepting the handouts unless they have worked here continuously for a year must be lifted to comply with EU requirements.
Experts, who have predicted that as many as 100,000 extra migrants could arrive after the rules are changed, say the benefits bonanza will be a further incentive to the million central and eastern European migrants already living and working in the UK to stay here.
But it will also place a greater burden on taxpayers when the Government is imposing severe spending cuts.
Professor Krystyna Iglicka, of the Centre for International Relations in Warsaw, said yesterday: “These new rules will make Poles feel even more at home in Britain and are another reason why they will never leave.”
News of the immigration wave will fuel the Daily Express’s crusade for Britain to quit the EU.
Young eastern Europeans yesterday expressed their willingness to travel to the UK once the rules are changed.
Eva Katona, 22, who is considering moving from Budapest to work as a nanny or carer, said: “Unemployment benefit in England is higher than a salary here and I have been told I can go on the dole as soon as I arrive. It is not my intention to do that, but it is nice to have the sort of security you do not find here.”
Other EU countries, which unlike Britain took the opportunity seven years ago to limit eastern European migration by restricting rights to work, also have to lift their controls next Sunday.
The UK’s Workers Registration Scheme, which obliged people from eastern Europe to register if they wanted to work in the UK for more than a month, is ending at the same time.
Hundreds of thousands of migrant have registered for employment here since the borders shake-up seven years ago.
A peak total of 224,195 registered in 2006. Numbers dropped after that, but rose by six per cent last year to 122,000 as the UK economy edged out of recession.
Conservative MP Philip Davies said it was impossible to say how many more people would come to Britain, but experience suggested numbers would rise.
He added: “Our welfare bill is too expensive supporting people in this country. We can’t afford to subsidise people from the rest of the EU as well.
“It’s another kick in the teeth for taxpayers and another example of why we would be better off out of the EU.
“Experience suggests that we will get the lion’s share of these people, partly because of the generosity of our welfare system. Whatever the reason, it is going to be EU-initiated picking of our pockets.”
David Cameron recently stressed the Government’s ambition of limiting non-European immigration to “tens of thousands” a year and has set a cap, but cannot stop migrants from within the EU.
A spokesman for the Department for Work and Pensions said: “Maintaining the security of the benefit system is our top priority and we will be keeping the rules on payment of benefits to people from abroad under review.”
Earlier this month, the Daily Express highlighted how British taxpayers were paying millions of pounds a year in benefits to foreigners who had gone home after losing their jobs but had worked here for more than a year.