Public services ‘creaking at the seams’ because of migrants, Cabinet minister warns

© Alkis Konstantinidis
The UK social system is overloaded because of the influx of migrants and refugees, says Culture Secretary John Whittingdale. He also questions official statistics on migration.

“The massive influx that has occurred as a result particularly of the expansion of the EU is putting pressure on all of the public services - housing, education, health,” Whittingdale, who is a Brexit advocate, said in an interview with the Telegraph.

“It (social system) is creaking at the seams. There is a very strong feeling that this is a small country and we simply cannot go on having an enormous influx over which we have no control,” he added.

Whittingdale also expressed doubts about the accuracy of British official migration statistics.

“There is already enormous concern on the basis of the numbers that are published. The suggestion that they may understate the position is a cause for even greater concern,” the minister said.

John Whittingdale © Stefan Wermuth

“I have heard the reasons why national insurance numbers don't necessarily reflect actual levels, but at the very least that's a debate which we need to have, and I can see no reason why we can't have the figures,” he added.

According to official figures, 257,000 EU citizens came to Britain last year, while during the same period 630,000 EU migrants registered for a national insurance number.

Home Office minister Richard Harrington echoed Whittingdale’s concerns with migrants in the UK, pointing out that it is often impossible to deport illegal immigrants.

“This deportation sounds easy; it sounds a common sense thing to do. But the truth is most of these illegal migrants have got no place to be deported to,” Harrington said as cited by the Daily Mail, adding that sometimes asylum seekers even burn their passports to conceal their nationalities.

“Public anxiety about illegal immigration is at an all-time high and the effectiveness of the government in tackling it, in my submission, is at an all-time low,” he added.

While Germany accepted more than a million of asylum seekers last year, primarily from war-torn countries such as Syria, Libya and Afghanistan, the UK received only about 39,000 refugees. At the same time the UK is an attractive country for EU migrants. There have been 2.25 million applications for insurance number by EU citizens in the last five years.

On June 23, Great Britain will hold a referendum on its EU membership and the migration issue seems to be the strongest weapon for advocates of Brexit. Referendum’s initiator, British Prime Minister David Cameron, who managed to get some preferences for the UK in Brussels has launched a campaign aimed at keeping the UK in the EU. One of the concessions the EU made is cutting social benefits for EU migrants in the UK.