According to the Express.co.uk “MIGRANTS were accused of “milking the system” after figures showed they are more likely to claim benefits than people born in the UK”. The website also indicated that one in five foreigners draw child benefit, whilst one in 10 receives housing benefits compared to one in 7 British-born people is on child benefit and one in 14 on housing benefit. Moreover, according to The Guardian, David Cameron- the former prime minister once announced that nearly 43% of EU migrants claimed benefits during their first years in the UK.. However, the question is are these figures really accurate and legit?
First of all, the figures seem to be a broad estimate and David Cameron does not actually know whether these figures are accurate or not, but he still made his claim based on these figures anyway.
Secondly, based on these figures it seems that in 2013 approximately between 195,000 and 235,000 out of 525,000 EU national resident in the UK for less than four years were on either in-work or out-of-work benefits. According to the same data, 66% of the claimants were in work, excluding students. Nevertheless, the problem with these figures are it is difficult to verify these figures without raw data and detailed information regarding methodology and calculation used to obtain these data.
Another flaw with these figures is they rely on tax credits data provided by HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC). The big issue with it is HMRC defines migrants as ones “where at least one adult is a migrant when issued with a national insurance number”. This means that a couple, of which one partner is a British national will also be included in its data. This suggests that amongst those RU migrants taking advantage of the U.K benefits systems, there are likely thousands of British people who are benefit from it as well.
So the question here is why the government never mentioned the number of British nationals in EU migrant families who were on benefit? It seems as if they make such claim to promote hate towards EU migrants amongst British nationals, making them believe that EU migrants are just in the UK to milk the UK benefits systems so that they would support the government in making and implementing policies to reduce the number of EU migrants to the UK.
Although there is nothing wrong with wanting to control and reduce EU migrants to the UK, promoting such false perceptions about EU migrants amongst British nationals is just wrong because it would promote hate and discrimination amongst British people and EU migrants. Of course, it would be naïve to believe that there is no single EU migrant in the UK here is for claiming benefits. There are such people, but not all of them. There definitely are EU migrants here in the UK that contribute so much for the UK economy, not milking it.
So should the UK government want to stop its benefits system from being abused, it would need to target all of those who have been abusing and will be abusing the system regardless of their nationality, not just targeting EU migrants only. If the ultimate goal of the UK government was to limiting welfare payments to those to abuse the benefits system, the first step would be to have the accurate data of all claimants regardless of their nationality, and which benefit they were on and took it from there.
Express.co.uk. (2016). Migrants ‘milking’ benefits system: Foreigners more likely to claim handouts. [online] Available at: http://www.express.co.uk/news/uk/592541/Migrants-milking-benefits-system-Foreigners-more-likely-to-claim-handouts [Accessed 1 Nov. 2016].
House of Commons. (2016). Statistics on migrants and benefits. [online] Available at: http://researchbriefings.files.parliament.uk/documents/SN06955/SN06955.pdf [Accessed 2 Nov. 2016].
The Guardian. (2016). EU migrants on benefits: separating the statistics from the spin. [online] Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/datablog/2015/nov/10/eu-migrants-on-benefits-separating-the-statistics-from-the-spin [Accessed 2 Nov. 2016].