Tories send message on UK immigration

30 Jul 2014 | Posted by Shazmeen Ali

David Cameron has outlined details of a crackdown on benefits for EU migrants, aimed to lower UK immigration numbers.

Speaking this week, the Prime Minister stated that something needs to be done to challenge the "magnetic pull" of UK benefits. The proposed solution is to halve the time EU migrants can claim out of work benefits in the UK to just three months.

He added that individuals who are working in the country illegally will also meet tough action if they are found out, encouraging international workers to instead go through the legitimate UK work permit routes to find employment.

The new promises, especially regarding EU benefits, are thought to be more about the message than anything financial as the numbers of people they will impact are in reality very small. It is hoped, however, that sending out the right message will help the Government to get close to its target of reducing net migration to the tens of thousands instead of the hundreds of thousands.

Indeed, a response from European Commission spokesman, Jonathan Todd, made clear the positives of EU migrants moving for work, suggesting that there is little evidence of 'benefits tourism'. He told the BBC: "[Migrant workers are] of immense economic benefit to the member states in terms, in particular of responding to skills gaps and labour shortages."

In addition to sending what the Government thinks is the right message to existing members of the UK, it hopes to discourage new migrants from moving to the country illegally without the required UK visas or UK work permits. The Prime Minister claimed that he is trying to build "an immigration system that puts Britain first".