During a visit to Brussels to discuss Labour’s proposals to reform the benefits system with EU government ministers, senior MEPs and members of the European Commission, Rachel Reeves MP, Labour’s Shadow Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, has called for the Government to deliver the reforms Britain needs.
Labour will put fairness and contribution at the heart of the benefits system, working with other European countries to:
- Extend the period that EU jobseekers wait before claiming out of work benefits from three months for at least two years.
- Limit in-work benefits paid to EU migrants to tackle undercutting by employers who rely on low skilled migrant labour.
- Stop child benefit and child tax credits being claimed for children living in other countries.
According to the House of Commons Library, up to £700 million of working-age benefits goes to EU migrants (excluding tax credits and child benefit), but the government does not collect information on how long these benefit recipients have been living or working in the UK. Many may have worked for several years and paid a significant amount in tax, but some may be relatively recent arrivals.
The House of Commons library has also found there are 252,000 in-work families from the European Union claiming tax credits and there are 48,000 single people from EU countries claiming Working Tax Credit.
“This week I’ve held a series of meetings in Brussels with EU government ministers, senior MEPs and members of the European Commission to discuss Labour’s plan to extend the period that EU jobseekers wait before claiming out of work benefits for at least two years, limit in-work benefits paid to EU migrants and stop child benefit being claimed for children living abroad. These measures will ensure our system is fair, and seen to be fair and put fairness and contribution back into the benefits system.
“Most migrants come to Britain to work and pay more in taxes than they claim in benefits. However, reform to our benefits system is essential when the latest figures show around £700 million of working-age benefits is being spent on EU migrants and millions more is sent abroad in child benefit for children who don’t live in the UK.
“The Government have had four and a half years to sort it out but have failed to deliver the changes Britain needs. David Cameron even said stopping child benefit being sent abroad would be, ‘difficult if not impossible’ to stop. No wonder he’s failed to deliver the reforms to Britain’s benefits system fairer. Millions of pounds of child benefit and child tax credit being sent abroad every year is yet another example of Tory Welfare Waste.
“A Labour government won’t admit defeat when it comes to delivering a fairer benefits system. We will deliver the changes that are right for Britain through negotiation and reform.”Rachel Reeves MP said.