Immigrants with many wives stand to make substantial financial gains under looming changes to Britain’s welfare system.
Polygamous marriages, which form a common thread in Islam, are recognised in Britain but only if they take place in countries where they are legal. Now a House of Commons library paper, published earlier this month, has highlighted a loophole that will allow additional wives coming to the UK to claim a full single person’s allowance while the husband and his first wife still receive their respective benefits.
At present additional wives receive reduced individual income support, meaning the husband and his first wife receive up to £114.85. Subsequent spouses living under the same roof receive a reduced allowance of about £40 each.
The foreshadowed changes mean some polygamous households may receive more under universal credit than under the present benefit and tax credit system. The paper said:
“The Government decided that the universal credit rules will not recognise additional partners in polygamous relationships,” the paper states.
“This could potentially result in some polygamous households receiving more under universal credit than under the current benefit and tax credit system.
“Treating second and subsequent partners in polygamous relationships as separate claimants could in some situations mean polygamous households receive more under universal credit than they do under the current rules for means-tested benefits and tax credits.
“This is because the amounts which may be paid in respect of additional spouses are lower than those which generally apply to single claimants.”
The news comes as universal credit (UC), introduced in April 2014, is applied to more Jobcentre areas, including Kent and Leicestershire, from tomorrow. More, including Cambridge and Hull, are set to introduce it before April this year.
UC is to replace all means-tested benefits and tax credits for families of working age and is gradually being introduced to new claimant groups and areas including those in polygamous unions.
This is not the first time that Islamic marriage traditions have been highlighted in the UK.
As Breitbart London reported, last year Britain’s first female sharia law judge stated that the “government cannot ask Muslims not to have more than one wife”.
That revelation came on the back of a report by the Times newspaper which claimed that Britain is experiencing a “surge” in Sharia marriages, as young British Muslims adopt a more hardline religious stance than their parents.
According to The Times:
“As many as 100,000 couples are living in such [sharia] marriages, which are not valid under UK law, experts said. Ministers have raised fears that women can be left without the right to a fair share of assets if the relationship ends, while others are forced to return to abusive “husbands”.
“A leading Islamic family lawyer warned that the increase in Sharia ceremonies among the 2.7 million-strong Muslim population in Britain was also behind a growth in ‘secret polygamy’.
“Probably a quarter of all couples I see involve polygamy issues,” Aina Khan told The Times. “There has been a huge rise in recent years because people can have a secret nikah [Islamic marriage] and no one will know about it.”
A spokesman for the Department for Work and Pensions told the Daily Express: “The previous system accommodated polygamous marriages but this Government has done away with it. Under new rules any additional partners who are unemployed have to claim benefits independently and will need to sign a claimant commitment, and look for work like anyone else. They will also not get benefits for housing costs if they are living together.”
It has been claimed that Muslim men are having up to 20 children each because of polygamy and the rise of “religiously-sanctioned gender discrimination” under Sharia Law.
Baroness Cox, a cross-bench peer, has highlighted a series of “shocking” examples of the impact of Sharia law on Muslim women in Britain as she called for them to be given greater protection.
Bigamy in the UK is a crime under Section 57 of the Offences Against the Person Act 1861 however in 2008, the Blair government gave the go-ahead for husbands with multiple wives to claim extra welfare benefits, so long as the weddings took place in countries where the arrangement is legal (as is permitted under Islamic law).
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