Unfair welfare: EU wants Britain to take care of non-citizens
21 Dec, 2011 07:05
Britain may be forced to pay out more than two billion pounds in welfare benefits to non-citizens - that is if the European Union has its way.But with London's new spirit of non-cooperation, the decision might not be so easy to impose.
“Dawid” – not his real name – is homeless, jobless and too embarrassed to be identified. He came to Britain from Poland five years ago hoping to live a dream. However, the reality has been a nightmare. He claims the UK welfare state has not been fair on him.“I am a citizen of the European Union,” he says. “Five years ago I decided that this country will be my home. I didn’t come here to claim benefits. I came here to work.”The government suspects that Dawid is a “benefit tourist”, here to take and not give back. He struggles with his English, and the state says he does not qualify for the handouts.A serious accident 18 months ago put him out of work and he soon went bankrupt.He has been living on the streets ever since, but still will not go back to Poland. “I thought this was a friendly country. But that’s only if it needs you and you work for it. The country could give me something, but it doesn’t need me. I never thought it would be like this. This is not a paradise,” he told RT.Foreign nationals are eligible for welfare once they have lived in the UK for over three months, but they must convince the authorities they are here to work and to support themselves. Now, the EU is calling on Britain to relax those rules, claiming they discriminate unfairly. It wants foreign nationals to be eligible for benefits as soon as they arrive. Douglas Carswell, a Conservative Party MP, says it is extraordinary for the EU to tell Britain it is not entitled to carry out an eligibility test before handing out benefits. “First of all, it’s our money. Secondly, it was in our manifesto that we were going to bring in these sorts of changes.It’s simply outrageous that unelected officials in Brussels can prevent us from bringing about reforms that we said we were going to do when we were voted into office,” he told RT.While the EU commission has refused to speak to RT, it has not been shy in issuing Britain with an ultimatum. It says the “right to reside” test, which foreigners must pass to claim benefits, is too tough.It has given the government until the end of this month to change it, or it will sue.But Britain is refusing to budge – otherwise, it claims, it will have to pay out 2.5 billion pounds to those in the country to take but not to give back.“The British welfare state exists to benefit British people. This was very clear in the original welfare state in the 1940s which had the contributory principle. You contributed, and you benefited. If you didn’t contribute, you weren’t eligible,” economist Tim Congdon told RT.Forty per cent of migrants arriving in the UK are from Eastern and Central Europe, and most are not eligible for welfare.Already, some are trying their luck, and no doubt more will, if the UK is forced to sweeten their deal.