The UK could face a new attack on its benefits bill as the European Court has ruled that Turkish workers are allowed social security hand-outs.
Britain appealed to the European Court of Justice against the ruling which states that “workers of Turkish nationality moving within the Community” and their family members residing in the Community can have access to periods of insurance or employment. These include old-age pensions, death benefits and invalidity pensions as well as health services for workers and their families.
Turks do not have freedom of movement because the country is in the application stage of EU membership but some obtain work permits can arrive by other routes.
It is a basic rule of the EU that there can be no discrimination based on grounds of nationality. This has caused problems for successive British governments as the number of people eligible to work in the UK, which has shot up at an astonishing rate since enlargement in 2004, are also entitled to in and out of work benefits.
UKIP MEP Steven Woolfe said the ruling could lead to higher spending on welfare payments and pensions for immigrants.
“Even if two per cent of Turkey’s 77 million population came to the UK, it would mean an extra 1.4 million people, and with no quality control.
“I am stunned at the ineptitude of Cameron’s government which would allow the redistribution of scarce taxpayers’ funds from those in need in the UK to Turkish nationals with no connection to our country.”
“We don’t need to be stuffed with any more Turkey for Christmas.”
The ruling comes at the same time as Home Secretary Theresa May launched a crack down on foreign students who come to study at university.
Earlier this month the government admitted it was not going to meet net immigration targets ahead of the next general election.
The proposal is being considered for the next Conservative Party manifesto even though it was revealed that the number of overseas students taking up places at England’s universities had decreased by 4,595 in one year.
A senior Home Office source told the BBC the “brightest and best” would still be able to come back to the UK, saying abuse of the system was fuelling net immigration.
Under current rules, students are allowed to stay in the country for four months after their course finishes and if during that time they get work they can switch from student to working visas.