Monday, November 24, 2014

Tax credits 'turned UK into a honeypot for EU immigrants': Worker on minimum wage could receive additional £330 a week

The true scale of tax credit benefits for EU migrants to Britain is revealed today – amid warnings that it is turning this country into a ‘honeypot nation’. Figures published last night by the Open Europe think-tank make clear how taxpayers are subsidising low-wage migrant workers. A migrant worker with two children earning the minimum wage sees their basic income of less than £200 a week propped up with an additional £330 in tax credits and other benefits. An average worker from Spain coming to Britain will see their weekly wage go up by nearly half compared to what they would earn at home. A worker from Poland can double their basic pay and new arrivals from Bulgaria will increase their pay by 250 per cent. Senior Tory MP Bernard Jenkin said: ‘We’ve become a honeypot nation in the European Union, which is why we’ve done well controlling immigration by non-EU countries, but that has been offset by quite a dramatic increase in immigration from EU countries. ‘One of the things that’s keeping low pay suppressed is the endless supply of cheap labour coming in from the EU8, the Eastern European countries, the recent entrants to the European Union which has really changed the whole equation. ‘And most people come to this country unaccompanied by their families, but they’re able to claim benefits to support their families back home.’ Mr Jenkin said migrant numbers were ‘causing real problems in hospitals, in schools, in provision of public services, shortage of housing’. The Open Europe figures emerged as the row over the Government’s migration target continued. It was sparked at the weekend when Theresa May admitted David Cameron was unlikely to meet his pledge to cut net migration – the difference between those arriving and those leaving – to the tens of thousands by May. The Home Secretary said the promise had been ‘blown off course’ by a higher-than expected influx from the EU. Yesterday, a Downing Street spokesman insisted cutting net migration to the tens of thousands remains the Prime Minister’s objective – while Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg said the promise was ‘pretty stupid’. The Open Europe figures show that in Spain, the average weekly take-home pay after tax for a single parent with two children is £362; in Poland it is £269 and in Bulgaria £149. In Britain, a worker on the minimum wage would earn £196, but that is increased by tax credits and other benefits to £527. It means workers moving to the UK from Spain see their earnings go up 45 per cent, from Poland by 95 per cent and from Bulgaria by a staggering 253 per cent. Open Europe said cutting tax credits was necessary to preserve free movement which was beneficial to Britain’s economy. It suggests refusing tax credits and some other benefits payments to migrant workers for up to five years. Tax credits were introduced by Gordon Brown to top up the incomes of low-earning families, particularly those with children. Families can claim up to £10,000 a year. The most significant other benefit received by migrant workers is child benefit of £20.55 for the first child and an extra £13.55 for each additional child. EU migrant workers are also potentially entitled to housing benefit. Overall, Britain spends £5billion a year on tax credits for migrant workers, with 415,000 foreign nationals benefiting from the perk. Witold Sobkow, the Polish ambassador to the UK, said refusing Polish citizens tax credits when working in Britain would be discriminatory under EU law. He added: ‘We pay the same taxes which pay for tax credits doing the same job. ‘So imagine you have three people working for the BBC – one from Spain, one from Poland and one from the UK; they live here, they pay taxes here. Why should you discriminate against the Spanish and the Polish worker?’ Mr Sobkow said plans were being drawn up to encourage 2,300 doctors and nurses trained in Poland but working in Britain to return home. ‘Of course we want them back,’ he said. ‘They were educated in Poland for free so we want them. We are doing our best to create conditions so that they could come back and work in Poland.’

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