UK Toughening Stance On Immigration

By Fiona Moore, for 02 December, 2014

The UK's Prime Minister, David Cameron, has announced new restrictions on welfare benefits for European Union (EU) migrants who come to the UK. He has also said he is "confident" that he will be able to negotiate greater control over who enters the country.

In a recent speech, Cameron explained that EU jobseekers living in the UK will be ineligible to receive payments from the new Universal Credit benefit, which is due to replace Jobseekers' Allowance, and that EU jobseekers who fail to find work within six months would be required to leave.

Further, EU migrants will not have access to tax credits and child benefit until they have paid tax for at least four years, and payments will not be available in cases where a child is living abroad. Migrants will also need to reside in the UK for four years before they can be considered for social housing.

Cameron also affirmed his support for the principle of freedom of movement within the EU, noting that 1.3 million Britons currently live in other EU member states. However, he argued that this has never been an unqualified right and warned that the principle needs to operate on a more sustainable basis.

He said the Government would insist that, in future, freedom of movement would not be given to new EU member states until their economies had converged much more closely with those of existing members.

The Prime Minister also promised to introduce tighter controls on EU migrants bringing non-EU spouses into the country. He observed that, currently, the non-EU spouse of a British citizen has to demonstrate English-language competency, and the couple must also demonstrate that their joint income is above a threshold of at least GBP18,600 (USD29,250) per year (plus an extra GBP3,800 for one dependent child and an extra GBP2,400 for each additional child).

Cameron said if he is re-elected in May, he will negotiate these changes for the whole EU, and that they "go with the grain" of what is being considered by other EU countries with high levels of immigration. If this proves impossible, he said he would push for a UK-only settlement.

He added that, although he is confident of succeeding, he would rule nothing out if the UK's relationship with the EU cannot be put on a better footing.

Tags: United Kingdom | European Union (EU) | Employment | Expats | Immigration | Welfare | Europe | Immigration |


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