Few migrants claim benefit anyway, JCWI tells Cameron

The Joint Council For The Welfare Of Immigrants (JCWI) has criticised Prime Minister David Cameron’s hard talk on immigration and benefits for immigrants.

Mr. Cameron recently announced plans to cut access to benefits for non-UK nationals after six months. He said that to ensure people cannot claim benefits indefinitely, in early 2014 the Government will create a statutory presumption that after six months an EEA national can no longer retain their status as a job seeker or retained worker and continue to claim benefits, unless they can demonstrate they have actively sought work throughout that period and have a genuine chance of finding work.

“You will be subject to full conditionality and work search requirements. And you will have to show you are genuinely seeking employment. If you fail that test, you will lose your benefit. And as a migrant, we’re only going to give you six months to be a jobseeker. After that benefits will be cut off unless you really can prove not just that you are genuinely seeking employment, but also that you have a genuine chance of getting a job,” Mr. Cameron said.

JCWI said it is not the case that anyone can arrive in the UK to simply live on benefits from day one. Evidence shows that people come here to work and improve their lives, rather than wasting away on the dole, JCWI said.

When you read the UK's mainstream media, JCWI said, you may be forgiven for thinking there were officials from the Department for Work and Pensions waiting at Dover with wads of cash to lavish on everyone arriving on a coach from Sofia.

JCWI told the government that increasing fines for irregular migrants serves to criminalise people who are often trapped in an unforgiving situation.

What people need from this government, JCWI said, is help and a way to regularise, not further vilification.

Habib Rahman, chief exec of JCWI said: "This rhetoric may curtail rights to benefits on a minor scale, but relatively few migrants compared with 'indigenous' people actually claim benefit anyway. The real effect of this speech will be to further increase the intolerance and the hostile reception that immigrants are facing form some sections of society. There's nothing new about people from these countries coming to live and work in the UK. This media hysteria denies the fact that immigration helps our economy and is a great boon to tackling the coming demographic imbalanced posed by our ageing population."

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