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UK Government Supports Benefits Tourism

An evocative head line and the root cause of benefits tourism is overarching European Union legislation which means from the 1 May 2011 any overseas workers can access benefits after about 12 weeks in the UK.

We used to see Polish workers arrive with a dictionary in their hands they now arrive with a list of websites and telephone numbers as part of their European ‘Human Rights. The first question used to be – where is the local catholic church now it is

  • Where is the job centre?
  • How can I claim Job seekers allowance?
  • I have kids back home, how do I get child benefit?
  • How do I qualify for housing benefit?

Yes, I know we can all go in live in Poland if we want to, but just contrast the benefits support. A man with 4 kids in Poland get less than £50 a month child support, in this country £250. These are not made up numbers but facts.

It also gets worse:

  • We have migrants deliberately getting themselves sacked to get onto benefits
  • We have Polish workers resigning from contracts saying they are going home (completely understandable) but then you get contacted by the benefits office 6-8 weeks later asking for employment details presumably as they are seeking to claim something or another.
  • Migrants rarely leave a forwarding address. Letters arrive, including bank statements, and from time to time you can see regular payments to people who you believe have left the UK that come from the UK government and are possibly fraudulent.

This is a crazy state of affairs and we need some joined up thinking from the government agencies concerned to stamp this out. We also need the political will to tell the EU that the access to benefits should be paralleled with the country of origin rather than our own.

Most people haven’t got a problem with Polish workers working in the UK but bleeding us dry in the name of the European Union is madness.

What we don’t know is the scale of the problem, I suspect we are just seeing the tip of a large, mainly unknown, iceberg. However, as a bit of perspective there are also 100’s of thousands of Polish workers making a great contribution to the UK as, if it wasn’t for Eastern European workers in the care, hospitality, food processing and picking and packing in warehouses throughout the UK much of our industry would grind to a halt as the UK unemployed still don’t want to work in these areas.

We are helping employers daily to close skills shortages using Polish workers but it is wrong that some of them are being allowed to abuse our hospitality.


Author – Chris Slay

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