PM gets tough on immigrant benefits

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European immigrants will only be able to claim benefits for three months unless they have serious job prospects under plans outlined by David Cameron.

The Prime Minister insisted the change would make it clear to migrants that they cannot get “something for nothing” in Britain and further address what he claims is the “magnetic pull” of the benefits system.

The plans will build on changes announced in January that mean European migrants have to wait three months after arriving in Britain before claiming out-of-work benefits.

After that three months, migrants will now only be able to claim benefits for three months unless they have “very clear job prospects” – a cut from the six months of claiming announced in January.

Mr Cameron will also highlight changes already brought in by the Government, including new powers to revoke the driving licences of illegal immigrants. A total of 2,200 have been revoked since the power’s introduction earlier this month.

Writing in The Daily Telegraph, Mr Cameron said: “We changed the rules so that no-one can come to this country and expect to get out-of-work benefits immediately; they must wait at least three months.

“And we are announcing today that we are cutting the time people can claim these benefits for.

“It used to be that European jobseekers could claim JSA (jobseeker’s allowance) or child benefit for a maximum of six months before their benefits would be cut off, unless they had very clear job prospects… we will be reducing that cut-off point to three months, saying very clearly: you cannot expect to come to Britain and get something for nothing…

“Taken together, this is about building a different kind of Britain – a country that is not a soft touch, but a place to play your part; a nation where those who work hard can get on.

“Carefully and painstakingly we are building an economy that has real opportunities for our young people; an education system that encourages them to do their best; a welfare system that encourages work; and an immigration system that puts Britain first.”

Shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper said the Government was failing on immigration despite Mr Cameron’s promise to get it down to the tens of thousands.

Ms Cooper said Labour called for tougher benefit restrictions nearly 18 months ago.

She said: “We need less talk from the Prime Minister on immigration and more action.

“It’s almost a year-and-a-half since Labour called for benefit restrictions on new migrants. In that time we’ve had reannouncement after reannouncement from the Tories but little in the way of firm action.

“Behind the rhetoric the true picture of this Government on immigration is one of failure, with net migration going up, despite David Cameron’s promise to get it down to the tens of thousands.

“The Government should get a grip and finally implement Labour’s proposals to stop the undercutting of wages and jobs for local workers by the exploitation of low-skilled migrant labour, including banning recruitment agencies that only hire foreign workers and pressing for stronger controls in Europe.”

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