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Why David Cameron’s benefit clampdown will not have a significant impact on migration flows

man wearing a tie

man wearing a tie

Prime Minister David Cameron’s claim that EU migrants in the UK are dependent on benefits is “selective and misleading”, National Institute of Economic and Social Research (NIESR) has said.

In response to a number of Freedom of Information (FOI) requests about tax credits claimed by migrants, HMRC released information challenging Mr Cameron’s claim that 40 percent of recently arrived European migrants were dependent on benefits.

“Given that well over a million European migrants registered for National insurance numbers over the period in question (and far more since) this suggests that claim rates among newly arrived migrants are, as researchers have always argued, quite low,” said Jonathan Portes, senior fellow at the NIESR. “This new data shows that the Prime Minister’s claim that 40 percent of recently arrived European migrants were dependent on benefits was at best selective and misleading.”

Mr Portes added that Mr Cameron’s focus on migrants’ benefits was misguided.

The so-called “emergency brake”, Mr Portes said, “will have only a modest impact on benefit receipt, and is highly unlikely to have a significant impact on migration flows.”

Mr Portes criticized the government’s decision to only release partial and selective information he had requested on EU migrants saying it was “both disappointing and unhelpful for the public debate.”

According to the data released by the HMRC, 84,000 households with at least one EEA migrant who had arrived in the UK or been issued a National Insurance number during the previous four years claimed tax credits in 2013 to 2014.

“Of the 84,000 households claiming tax credits in 2013 to 2014, a total of 50,000 were claims from couples, and 34,000 were single claims,” HMRC said.

The data also shows that only 111,000 EEA migrants who had arrived in the UK or been issued a National Insurance number during the previous four years lived in households claiming tax credits in 2013 to 2014.

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