DAVID Cameron will today announce tough restrictions on EU nationals claiming British unemployment benefits, along with other anti-immigration measures designed to please the right wing of his party.
From early 2014 non-UK nationals will only be able to claim jobseeker’s allowance for six months unless they can prove they “have a genuine chance of finding work”. At the moment residents of the European Economic Area (EEA) have the same rights to welfare payments as UK-born claimants.
“Ending the something for nothing culture needs to apply to immigration as well as welfare,” the Prime Minister is expected to say later today. “We’re going to give migrants from the EEA a very clear message. Just like British citizens, there is no absolute right to unemployment benefit.”
Councils will also be instructed to introduce a local residency test for social housing, requiring individuals to have lived in an area for several years before they are placed on the waiting list for a home. The Prime Minister will promise fast-track access to the list for UK nationals who are forced to move for “genuine reasons”.
Other measures include a consultation on further restricting free access to the NHS for individuals from overseas, a legal requirement for landlords to check the migration status of new tenants, and doubling the maximum fine for businesses that employ illegal workers to £200,000.
The news comes on the day that a report by MPs criticises the UK Border Agency (UKBA) for failures that have allegedly allowed thousands of illegal immigrants to remain in the UK.
The report from the home affairs select committee says the agency has “wrongly concluded” that not being able to trace an asylum applicant means that they are not in the UK. It also attacks the decision to hand the top job at HM Revenue & Customs to former UKBA boss Lin Homer.
“Successive UKBA chief executives have presided over chaos including 150 boxes of unopened mail, 100,000 unopened letters and yet another effective amnesty for thousands due to calamitous inefficiency,” said committee chairman Keith Vaz.