Taxpayers are shelling out at least £250,000 ($500000) a week in benefit for migrants’ children who are not even living in Britain, it emerged yesterday.
Official figures revealed that some 14,000 people are claiming child benefits for children in a variety of new EU member states across Eastern Europe. The benefit for a first child is £8.10 per week, rising to £12.10 a week for subsequent children. If each of the claimants had just one child, the total weekly cost would be £253,400. But it is likely to be the tip of the iceberg because figures on the scale of the separate child tax credits have not been released by the Government. In total, more than 68,000 child benefit claims have been made by migrants arriving since Poland, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Slovakia and Slovenia joined the EU in 2004.
Conservative Shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury Philip Hammond, who obtained the new figures in a Parliamentary written answer, said: “Two hundred thousand more British children are living in poverty than a year ago. So why is Gordon Brown sending thousands in benefits every week to children who don’t live here and who may never even have visited the UK?” Under EU rules, any citizen living in other member states – including Britons living abroad – is entitled to claim that nation’s welfare payments. Sir Andrew Green, chairman of Migrationwatch UK, said the disparity in national economies meant British rates of child benefit could net someone more money than they could earn by working in their own country. “Someone with three children will draw more money here than he would earn on a minimum wage in Poland.”
In 2005, that was about £150 a month, he claimed. “It is hard to see why we should pay child benefit at British levels for children in a country with a much lower cost of living.” A spokesman for the Taxpayers’ Alliance said: “Limiting child benefit to UK residents and stopping unemployment benefit after six months, would save billions a year.” A spokesman for HM Revenue and Customs said last night: “Only 14,000 families receive child benefit for children resident in other EU states, a tiny fraction of the overall seven million families receiving child benefit. “Nationals from other EU states are only allowed to claim if they are working and paying UK tax, or if they have paid enough national insurance.”
The Government was caught on the hop yesterday as shadow immigration minister Damian Green demanded to know how many murderers, rapists and drugs dealers had been given British citizenship during Labor’s 10 years in office. Immigration Minister Liam Byrne said it would be possible to answer only by referring to individual files, which would be too costly. (express.co.uk)