Cameron Confirms Clampdown on Bulgarians, Romanians
David Cameron has announced a crackdown on so-called "benefit tourism", citing fears over mass immigration from Bulgaria and Romania.
Eligibility rules for out-of-work benefits will be tightened and access to housing benefit will be curbed.
The prime minister said people were "deeply concerned" about migration levels from Bulgaria and Romania.
He also questioned the principle of free movement inside the EU, saying this right could not be "unqualified".
In an interview with the Financial Times, the prime minister said the last Labor government had made a "monumental mistake" in not restricting access to the UK labor market when Poland and nine other countries joined the EU in 2004 - which resulted in much larger numbers coming than expected.
He announced a series of measures to address what he said were public concerns about the impact of current and future immigration from eastern European on the UK economy and public services.
- New migrants will not get out-of-work benefits for the first three months
- Payments will be stopped after six months unless they have a "genuine" chance of a job
- The "habitual residency test" to determine eligibility for benefits will be tightened up
- An earnings threshold will be introduced
- New migrants will not be able to claim housing benefit immediately
- Those not seeking work will be removed and will not able to return for 12 months
- Fines for employers not paying the minimum wage will be quadrupled
"We are changing the rules so that no-one can come to this country and expect to get out-of-work benefits immediately," he told the newspaper.
The prime minister is said to have come up with the plan as he faces mounting pressure from Britons, who want the UK government to extend restrictions on Bulgarian and Romanian migrants.
On 1 January 2014, Bulgarians and Romanians will be able to work anywhere in the European Union as the last of their membership restrictions are lifted.
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