Brexit Win: EU Immigrants to Be Barred from Receiving Govt Benefits for Five Years

Britain formally launched the process for leaving the European Union on March 29, a historic move that has split the country and thrown into question the future of the European project. / AFP PHOTO / Daniel LEAL-OLIVAS (Photo credit should read DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS/AFP via Getty Images)
DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS/AFP via Getty Images

Immigrants from the European Union will have to wait for five years before claiming benefits from the British government following the end of the Brexit transition period on December 31st.

On Wednesday, the Work and Pensions Secretary Therese Coffey confirmed that Europeans will indeed be subjected to the same rules regarding benefits as immigrants from the rest of the world.

The welfare overhaul will also include the removal of the ability to claim child benefits for children residing in countries outside the UK.

“We have delivered on our manifesto commitment to restore fairness in access to our welfare system by treating EU and non-EU migrants equally,” Miss Coffey said per the Daily Mail.

“It is both right and fair that people making the UK their home should pay into the tax system for a reasonable period of time before they can access the benefit system,” she added.

Prior to the rule change, EU migrants were eligible to claim income-related benefits from the government during their first year in the country, as opposed to the standard five-year waiting period for migrants outside the bloc.

Miss Coffey said: “New Year’s Day sees the end of free movement and fairer benefit rules coming into force for new EU migrants.”

In response to the announcement, Brexit leader Nigel Farage said: “EU migrants can’t claim benefits for five years now. Another UKIP policy goes mainstream.”

At the end of the Brexit transition period, the UK’s immigration apparatus will be based on a points-based system modelled off of the Australian immigration system.

Those wishing to immigrate to the UK will need to demonstrate proficiency in English, have an appropriate skill level, and meet a minimum salary threshold.

The government’s immigration website states: “The new immigration rules will ensure that businesses can recruit the most highly qualified from across the globe to drive the economy forwards and keep the UK at the frontier of innovation.”

“It will also encourage employers to focus on training and investing in the UK workforce, driving productivity and improving opportunities for individuals, especially those impacted by coronavirus,” the government added.

There are concerns, however, that as the new immigration system does not set an annual cap on arrivals, the plan could result in migration increasing to the country.

The mass migration sceptic think tank Migration Watch UK has cautioned that the points-based immigration system could open the door to around 660 million workers.

In October, the think tank condemned the government for “ploughing ahead” with the scheme that was developed before the coronavirus crisis, and millions of native Brits were forced out of work.

“The exposure of millions of UK jobs to global recruitment in present circumstances risks seriously hurting British workers. As companies collapse, giving British workers a fair chance to apply for jobs in the UK must be the urgent need of the hour,” said Migration Watch UK chairman Alp Mehmet.

Follow Kurt Zindulka on Twitter here: @KurtZindulka

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