£886million... That is the eye-watering sum YOU pay in benefits to out-of-work EU migrants in just one year
Jobless European immigrants living in Britain were handed an astonishing £886 million in benefits over a single year, The Mail on Sunday can reveal.
The staggering welfare bill has been disclosed for the first time buried in a Government report backing David Cameron’s plea for the UK to remain in the European Union.
Last week’s report says unemployed EU migrants received £886 million in Housing Benefit, Jobseeker’s Allowance and sickness pay in 2013-14. The Government has always insisted it was unable to obtain this data despite repeated requests from MPs, prompting suspicions of a cover-up.
Critics say a fresh influx of Romanian and Bulgarian migrants means the figures are now likely to be even higher, despite Mr Cameron’s claims that new welfare restrictions and the deal with other EU leaders means payments are falling.
Philip Davies, a Conservative MP who has repeatedly failed to obtain Government statistics on the migrant welfare bill, said: ‘It’s amazing we’ve got some figures at last, but one has to question how reliable they are. They certainly won’t be underestimates. It’s quite clear that immigration has gone up recently so the figures must be well over a billion pounds now, even by the Government’s own estimates.
‘At last we are laying bare the huge cost of being a member of the EU. The changes the Prime Minister has negotiated are trifling – the only way to restrict benefits to EU migrants is to leave the EU.’
Fellow Tory MP Christopher Chope, who recently tabled a Bill to cut Child Benefit sent abroad, said welfare paid to migrants was ‘a very significant sum, and if the British taxpayer realised they would be even more concerned. I think this is why the Government has always been extremely reluctant to disclose the information’.
Despite the long-running debate over how much EU migrants should be entitled to, the new figures are the most detailed so far on the cost to the public purse.
The 43-page dossier, published last Monday and titled The Best Of Both Worlds, claims that about four in ten recent arrivals from the EU are in households that get benefits.
It says EU migrants received £2.5 billion of benefits for workers on low incomes, made up of Housing Benefit and Working Tax Credits, ten per cent of the total UK bill.
Downing Street insists this will fall under Cameron’s EU deal because of the ‘emergency brake’ preventing new arrivals claiming full benefits for four years. The report also claims Britain will pay out less to migrants who arrive here without work.
It says that ‘at its peak’ the UK was spending £700 million a year on benefits to jobless Europeans but there has since been a ‘clampdown’.
However, detailed statistics published alongside the report by the Department for Work and Pensions give a far bigger figure. They show the total ‘out-of-work expenditure’ on European migrants was £886 million in 2013-14. Of this, £465 million went on Housing Benefit, £216 million on Jobseeker’s Allowance and the remaining £205 million on disability payments.
New restrictions mean migrants must wait three months before claiming benefits. The jobless can only receive them for three months after that, while Housing Benefit has been scrapped for the out-of-work.
But the Government only expects to save £10 million a year and there has since been a fresh surge of migrants, mainly from Romania and Bulgaria.
The Government report also fails to include details on Child Benefit, which is claimed by EU migrants for 32,000 children in their home countries. Migrants whose children live in the UK will still be able to claim, and some critics say this means more families will settle permanently in Britain.
Eight million foreigners living in the UK... up 57 per cent in 10 years
The number of foreign-born people living in Britain has soared by 57 per cent since the expansion of the European Union a decade ago.
Latest figures show that in 2014 there were 8.2 million people living in the UK who were born overseas – up from 5.2 million in 2004 when residents of Eastern European countries were first allowed to settle here.
Foreign-born people now make up 13 per cent of the UK’s population, compared with 8.8 per cent a decade ago. Of these, three million were born in EU countries and 5.2 million have come from elsewhere in the world.
The Office for National Statistics figures reveal that 180,000 more migrants now live in the West Midlands than ten years ago, while 144,000 extra foreigners have settled in Greater Manchester over the same decade. In the West London borough of Hounslow, the foreign-born population has doubled to reach 127,000.
The largest percentage increases in immigrants came in small rural areas that were overwhelmingly home to UK-born Britons a decade ago. In North-West Leicestershire, for example, the foreign-born population rose by 700 per cent from 1,000 to 8,000. And in Lincoln there was a 400 per cent rise, from 3,000 to 15,000.
But in another historic cathedral city, Winchester, the figures state that the non-UK born population fell by 50 per cent between 2004 and 2014, from 8,000 to 4,000.
The detailed local figures come after the ONS published statistics last week showing net migration is still close to record levels.
The increase in the overall UK population was 323,000 in the year to September 2015, with EU citizens accounting for 172,000 of the rise.
Ukip leader Nigel Farage said the figures show the Government’s pledge to reduce net migration to tens of thousands ‘continues to be laughable’.