Tuesday, August 11, 2015

EU Migrant 4 Year Residency Test For Benefits Will Hit Young Britons

New government plans to tighten the rules of EU migrants includes a four year residency test for to qualify for benefits. However, the stringent new test could also mean young Britons losing the right to claim benefits for four years.

Lawyers claim that applying the rule to migrants alone would breach EU laws, so the government is considering applying it to all UK benefit applicants from the age of 18. 

In a speech last year Prime Minister David Cameron said:

“Changes to welfare - to cut EU migration - will be an absolute requirement in the negotiation that I'm going to undertake."

Cameron has urged EU leaders to agree to his “reasonable proposals”, one being migrants arriving in the UK have to wait four years to access certain benefits.

Such a proposal could be deemed discriminatory and breach EU law.

 Britons may be affected as even if they have been a UK resident all their lives, from their 18th birthday would be ineligible for the benefits for four years until they reach 22. The plan is estimated to affect about 50,000 UK citizens under the age of 22, most with children.

The lawyers' assessment said: "Imposing additional requirements on EU workers that do not apply to a member state's own workers constitutes direct discrimination which is prohibited under current EU law."

British Labour Party politician Stephen Timms assumed that the EU negotiations were "not going well" and ministers were beginning to realise that they were not delivering their promises.

The former Tory Leader has pushed for the proposal of EU nationals to have been working in the UK for four years before they become eligible for benefits.

Some of the EU countries have strongly opposed the plans for a tougher benefit rule for EU migrants, including the Polish government. The government has already been taken to court over its habitual resident test by the European Commission.

"We've already taken action to protect the benefits system and ensure that EU migrants come to this country for the right reasons and to contribute to the economy.” said a government spokesman’s.

"Now we're focused on re-negotiating our relationship with Europe and getting a better deal for Britons, and we won't speculate on other options."

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