Britain Further Tightens Rules For Immigrants

World | April 9, 2014, Wednesday // 11:42
Bulgaria: Britain Further Tightens Rules For Immigrants File photo

Britain is further stepping up restrictions on foreign job seekers' access to welfare payments in an attempt to cut immigration, reports Reuters.

Polls show voters are concerned about immigration levels, a trend reflected in the rising popularity of the anti-EU UK Independence Party (UKIP) which opposes "open door immigration" and has drawn support away from David Cameron's Conservatives.

UKIP is expected to come first or second in elections for the European Parliament next month, pushing the Conservatives into third place.

In response, Cameron has sought to appear tough on the issue by tightening visa rules for migrants from outside the European Union and by restricting access to welfare benefits for EU nationals.
Under rules announced on Tuesday, migrants from all countries who arrive in Britain to find work will have to wait for three months before being able to claim welfare payments for their children.
The announcement builds on a similar three-month waiting period for unemployment benefits, which was introduced earlier this year amid concerns that the lifting of restrictions on Romanian and Bulgarian workers' right to come to Britain could prompt a surge in immigration.

New welfare claimants will also no longer have automatic access to translation services, and those who do not speak English will face unspecified sanctions unless they improve their language skills.

"These changes send a strong message that our welfare system is not open to abuse and will deter those who think that they can move to the UK primarily to claim benefits," said Nicky Morgan, a junior minister in Britain's finance ministry. 

Meanwhile, a recent jobs report of the The Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC) and KPMG found that the tightening of immigration restrictions is hurting Britain's job market. 

The REC said that as well as "skilling UK workers" the government should place a priority on "addressing the restrictions on visas for highly skilled workers, which would allow businesses to access the people they need to grow and create jobs.”

Britain's labour market is performing below its potential due to a core group of the long term unemployed who do not have the skills required for many of the vacancies available, according to the report.

This stands in marked contrast to the claims of immigration critics such as UKIP leader Nigel Farage, who has said many of the roles available including those being filled by immigrants can be done by UK workers.

The REC are far from the first to warn the government about the dangers of a draconian immigration policy. In March, following immigration minister James Brokenshire's speech claiming that British workers had lost out on jobs due to immigration, there was intense backlash from business leaders.

Director general of the Institute of Directors, Simon Walker, branded the government's positioning as "feeble and pathetic" adding “the UK is an open, trading country that benefits from the skills and ideas of migrants."

The government has found it increasingly difficult to argue that its policy of a non-EU migration cap may be needed due to the economic draw backs of a more liberal immigration policy. A Home Office report published on 6 March, found that there was "relatively little evidence" that immigration displaces UK workers in a buoyant economy.

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Tags: UK, Britain, immigration, UKIP, David Cameron, benefits
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