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Polish Workers Benefits Boost

It is hard to think that the UK will be relaxing its controls over Eastern European migrants from the end of April 2011.

The Workers Registration Scheme is being consigned to history just at the very time when UK Employers are shortly going to have to embrace new regulations under the Agency Workers Directive and will mean greater responsibility being forced down onto recruitment companies and hirers.

But this pales into insignificance when the relaxation of benefit rules are taken into consideration which is tantamount to an open invitation to a new influx of migrants who could claim benefits of up to £250 a week within weeks of arriving. Amazingly from next Sunday, rules that ban Eastern Europeans from claiming unemployment, housing and council tax benefits until they have worked in the UK for 12 months are being lifted and the isolated incidents of ‘benefits tourism’ by immigrants from the eight former Communist countries affected could rise sharply.

This is a double edged sword. From next week, Polish workers could claim benefits within weeks of arriving in the UK but also the one million or so Eastern Europeans already in Britain will have a greater incentive to stay.

Going back to when the countries joined the EU in 2004, their citizens were barred from claiming jobseeker’s allowance or housing and council tax benefits in the UK until they had worked here for 12 months continuously. The stringent rules meant few qualified. But the restrictions were time-limited – it was always intended they would end when a transition period finished seven years after the countries joined the EU. And yet again it is EU law dictating to the UK the rules to be applied.

From Ist May they will be treated exactly the same as Britons. They will be able to claim the three benefits immediately, as long as they can prove they meet their own countries’ requirements for unemployment benefit, are seeking to work, and are ‘habitually resident’ here. Who is going to carry out these checks at a time when unemployment is set to rise and the Job Centres are laying off people. Talk about muddled thinking.

The ‘habitually resident’ qualification means they will usually have to have been here for three months which means they can take a seasonal job and when this comes to an end they can go on the dole.

The other little known right is that Polish Workers and other Eastern European workers for that matter, with children back home, can claim UK child benefit at a level at least 5 times greater than they receive at home and tax free.

As someone who makes a living by introducing Polish Workers into the UK I share the general concern at the madness of the overall arrangements which are a function of the EU’s freedom of movement regulations.

However like the unemployment benefits system, don’t blame the claimants but blame the system that allows such nonsense to occur.

Where is the joined up thinking from the Government?


Author: Chris Slay

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