Britain pays out £5 billion a year to 415,000 foreign nationals each year, according to figures from the think tank Open Europe. The top-up means that a minimum wage earner from Poland can double their salary by moving to the UK, and a Bulgarian national can see their wages rise by more than 250 percent by coming to the UK. A senior Tory MP said that Britain is becoming a “honeypot nation.”
In Britain a minimum wage job pays £196 a week but this figure can be topped up with various tax credits and benefits. A single parent with two children on the minimum wage can claim an extra £330 from the state, taking total weekly earnings to £527 a week, and these benefits are open to all EU migrants.
The top up therefore makes migration to the UK much more attractive for workers from all over the EU, prompting senior Conservative Member of Parliament Bernard Jenkin to comment “We’ve become a honeypot nation in the European Union.”
The figures were released to support British Prime Minister David Cameron’s renegotiation efforts with Brussels over immigration. As part of his strategy to look tough on the issue in light of the threat posed by the UK Independence Party to his vote Cameron had proposed a cap on EU immigration, a stance unlikely to find favour with other European leaders. Last month German Chancellor Angela Merkel said that striking down the principle of Free Movement of People was off the table.
As an alternative, Open Europe are suggesting that in-work benefits are withdrawn from migrants, making migration to the UK from other EU countries less attractive. They said “a single worker earning the minimum wage in Spain coming to the UK to work on the minimum wage would see their income boosted by a third under the current rules but under Open Europe’s proposed new rules, their average weekly income would in fact drop by 8% compared with what they would earn by staying in Spain.”
Workers from Poland and Bulgaria, the other two countries which Open Europe focused on, would still see a rise in wages compared to staying at home, but at a drastically reduced rate. For a Polish workers who pay an income tax of 35.5 percent on a minimum wage of £174.06 back home, the wage increase gained by moving to Britain would be slashed from 155 percent to 74 percent. Bulgarian nationals who are paid just £79.48 a week at home would see the wage increase fall from 374 percent to 221 percent under Open Europe’s proposed rules.
Steven Woolfe, migration spokesman for Ukip told Breitbart London “The UK’s in work benefit system is intended to help those put at a disadvantage from imperfect internal labour markets. It is not intended as an inducement for those low paid workers from the rest of the EU to come to Britain.
“As an example of the law of unintended consequences it’s not a surprise that migrants across the EU think Britain’s streets are paved with gold. A benefit system designed to help the poorer members of our society together with mass, wage reducing, EU immigration makes for an unsustainable mix.
“Until we leave the EU and control our borders, this lamentable situation will never be resolved”