Monday, April 27, 2015

UK: Tory standing against Nigel Farage runs website that helps EU migrants claim tax credits

Craig Mackinlay and Nigel Farage are going head to head for the South Thanet seat

The Conservative candidate fighting Nigel Farage at the General Election owns a website that helps foreign nationals claim welfare benefits - despite his party pressing for stiffer controls. Craig Mackinlay, who is running against the Ukip leader in South Thanet, previously owned a dormant website called, which urged Hungarian migrants to come to the UK for jobs. The website, which was later abandoned, had boasted "substantial opportunities across the UK to work in the agricultural and food processing sectors." But now it has emerged that Mr Mackinlay is also the partner of accountancy firm Beak Kemmenoe, based in Chatham, Kent, who have a website called The new site offers advice to EU nationals on how to claim British tax credits, describing them as "unbelievably generous." It tells migrants from low-wage economies how they "will almost certainly find yourself in line for a substantial tax credit claim." The homepage also says the firm is "the UK's only professional practice whose sole business is to deal with tax credit claims". The website features flags of the countries where foreign nationals could qualify to claim and says the system is "uniquely complicated but unbelievably generous." It adds: "Newcomers to the UK are often unaware of the Tax Credit system. "By the time they've been made aware, often from existing friends in the UK, substantial claims have been lost. "£millions in potential claims have been lost in the past simply through ignorance of the system." The disclosure is set to be another blow for Mr Mackinlay, who was previously grilled over his involvement in It comes as the Conservative Party pledges to crackdown on so-called benefit tourism. As part of the Tory manifesto, David Cameron's party say they plan to stop EU migrants from claiming tax credits until they have been earning for four years. On his own website, Mr Mackinlay wrote: "I want to see a review of the current agreements for the freedom of movement within the EU - a sensible approach to restrict purely economic migration." He has since defended the site saying the work is "completely legitimate from a legal, moral and political perspective". He said: "I run a small local business which employs 25 people. "One of the things my business does is advise people on the tax they should pay and the tax credits they are entitled to. "We have helped working parents with young children, entrepreneurs setting up their own businesses, and older people planning for their retirement. "My company - and I - have a particular speciality when it comes to tax credits, which means we have helped significant numbers of people on low incomes to do their best for their families. "As part of this work, we have also helped some foreign nationals to claim tax credits. "This is completely legitimate from a legal, moral and political perspective: foreign nationals who are entitled to tax credits are working and making a contribution to our country."What's more, if we had refused to help foreign nationals in the way that my company helps British nationals, we would have been breaking the law." He added: "As part of our plans to reduce and control immigration the Conservatives will limit in-work benefits for European nationals. "This is the right thing to do because it will help to reduce European immigration and it will mean that people can only take out of the system once they have contributed already. "If any candidates in this election are opposed to tax credits for people who are in work, they should say so now - because the public have a right to know." Recent figures suggest migrant workers cost British taxpayers £5billion a year in tax credits. Almost £100 million a week is spent on the 415,000 foreign nationals working in Britain who are benefiting from the payments, according to an analysis by the government's Migration Advisory Committee. A Ukip spokesman added: "I am sure that the people of Thanet will be interested in Mr Mckinley's activities. Nigel Farage is more interested in the representing people of Thanet than the interests of foreign workers."

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