Playing the blame game – it’s all the immigrants fault…

Don Flynn of the migrants' rights network responds to Chris Grayling's appalling dog-whistle announcement over welfare cheating migrants.


Don Flynn is the director of the Migrants’ Rights Network

Today’s article in the Daily Telegraph by employment minister Chris Grayling and immigration minister Damian Green gives a picture of hundreds of thousands migrants arriving and marching straight down to the job centres to claim benefits.

Whipping up a storm of innuendo and misrepresentation, they link students, tourists and people “coming in the backs of lorries” to the fact that 370,000 claiming work-related social security benefits were born abroad.

Here’s a much-needed reality check:

Of this 370,000, over one-half are actually British citizens. They didn’t arrive here yesterday – many will have come ten, twenty or more years ago.

Another point: 370,000 sounds like a big figure, but it represents a fraction of just over 6 per cent of the 5.5 million people in receipt of these benefits. Not such a large figure after all.

It might also be worth mentioning that people born abroad make up around 14 per cent of the UK workforce. If they were represented in that proportion amongst benefit claimants we’d need many more of these ‘foreigners’ to get down to the dole queue and sign on.

The statistics the ministers are quoting also say nothing about the real cost of the benefits claimants – both foreign-born and native – to the public purse. It’s all very well saying on such-and-such a date 6 per cent of social welfare recipients were born abroad, but how many were amongst the long-term unemployed, and how many just needed help for a month or so before their next job turned up?

Anyone closer to the ground in this debate knows that benefits are only paid out when strict tests of entitlement are gone through by social security officials.

Most non-EU migrants who have arrived within the previous five years (two years if the spouse or partner of a person settled here) are barred from receiving the large number of income-related, child and incapacity benefits which figure on the immigration rule’s ‘public funds’ list.

Even EU nationals, who are supposed to have the same rights as UK citizens in these matters, have to have been in employment or self-employment, or the partners of someone who has, and to show that they are ‘habitually resident’ in the UK before they receive benefits.

So why has the government released these numbers now? When so much of the news about the economy and unemployment is as dire as it is, and the tsunami of joblessness that is now sweeping over us is associated with austerity measures, is it any surprise that some of its ministers are yet again speaking about migration and abuse of the system?

See also:

DWP evidence says migrants aren’t benefit cheats. DWP’s spin says…Alex Hern, January 20th 2012

How to create a Telegraph migration scare storyMatt Cavanagh, September 9th 2011

Express and Mail fail the migration stats testSunder Katwala, August 26th 2011

The bad news in yesterday’s employment stats (and it’s not about migration)Declan Gaffney, July 14th 2011

When will politicians stop taking the public for fools on immigration?Declan Gaffney, July 2nd 2011

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  • Anonymous

    It’s not the immigrants fault. It’s your fault. You let them in, when they would be a drain on public resources.

    You gave them citizenship, when they would be a drain on public resources.

    I don’t blame them one bit, but that doesn’t mean we should remove them from the UK.

    Migration into the UK should just be for those who are a net economic benefit.

    No central planning about quotas or permitted occupations, or pass laws, …

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  • David Mace

    This is yet another smoke screen and attempt at hate stirring up. Surprisingly its bonus season again. A better focus and more financially rewarding investigation into tax avoidance would be a better waste of tax payers money.

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  • Blarg1987

    And nothing to do with the vested interest of buisnesses who wanted to import cheap labour reducing wage increases for working people and terms and conditions?

    I would bet my life savings that the conservatives would have done the exact same policy on immigration adn say it was EU rules as there interestes are in those that fund them, and the rewards politicans believe they can achieve as are all political parties.

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  • RedFish

    I assume the “your” was directed at the Thatcher government for signing up to the Single European Market, or perhaps the Tory Governments form 1950-64 which allowed mass immigration from the Commonwealth??

  • Patrick

    I think we should abolish all immigration controls and allow anyone who wants to come and live here to come straight in.

  • Daggsat

    We have!

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    It is no surprise that ‘the migrants abuse of the system’ is still a topic on certain publications and ministers agendas. I don’t understand why the British press and government have this regressive habit of using migrant workers to detract attention from national crises. In this seemingly modern and international world the importance of this (often temporary) workforce should be apparent to all. Chris Grayling and Damian Green’s article in the Telegraph is inflammatory and skates over the neatly pointed out statistics above. To suggest that the majority of migrants arriving in the UK are heading straight to the benefits office is ludicrous and it is refreshing to see such a short, supported response as above. Does this move to ‘migrants claiming our benefits’ from ‘migrants taking our jobs’ seem desperate to anyone else? Particularly when the released figures do not indicate the bigoted belief being pushed.

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  • Nick Leaton

    I’m sure lots of them love it.

    However its not good for the country. The end result is poor people subsidising migration. Hence the need to restrict migration to those that pay more tax than the average government spend.

    It has lots of things going for it.

    1. Non-racist.
    2. No central planning
    3. Easy to administer – check the tax returns.

    However, you’ve got too many MPs benefiting. For example the Attorney general. The one they changed the rules retrospectively to make her expenses fraud legal.

  • Blarg1987

    I think to hit two birds with one stone, the simplist solution would be for immigration outside the EU the employer must provide private medical cover and shooling for the family of the employe in question as well as have them pay taxes for the first 5 years, this would mean that if buisnesses needed them they would pay for it or if not be encouraged to train up local people.
    With regards to the EU we have national insurence which pays for treatement etc, the simple solution would be to ensure all EU citizens working here have a valid insurence card from their member state covering the costs of their employement otherwise certain things would be witheld, I am sure once this has reached far and wide immigration to the UK would drop like a stone for people who come here for low paid jobs and skills, granted we need these people but they need a living wage and the only way to do that is make it more expensive to bring in cheap labor then to employ and train local people on a higher wage.

  • Newsbot9

    The same rules need to be applied to everyone.

    So you’d cut access to the NHS for the poor here. *claps*

  • Al

    Just remember, ‘Lord Blagger’, that these are human beings, not some faceless mass just waiting to pounce and drain the British purse. They are individuals who share in common with every other individual a wish and a need to provide for themselves and their families, to live in peace and comfort and security. Perhaps if they see our country as enabling them to realise these goals, we should be flattered, rather than demonising them and blindly focussing on self-interest and profit?

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  • Ed’s Talking Balls

    You can be flattered by someone’s interests yet still rebuff said interests. I suspect Rihanna has quite a few people interested in her but, ultimately, cannot accommodate everyone.

  • Blarg1987

    Please reread my last comment again as I said we have NATIONAL INSURENCE which covers all UK citizens so how would that descriminate against the poor here?
    Under the EU we have to trate EU citizens under the same system we have so in some countries you have to pay etc yet they get it back form the state etc, so if we have a simular system where by foreign nationals must obtain an equivelent national insurence card in which we can reclaim any ssociated costs from their state of origin we are still in the rules an it would make it far harder for health tourism, which I accept is a very small amount of people.

  • Newsbot9

    Of course they’re not Human to him.

  • Newsbot9

    NI is something which is not fully paid by the poorest workers. Not to mention the temporarily unemployed. But never mind them!

    The NHS’s problems with claiming back relate to the lack of a proper central IT system, which is something mismanaged repeated by governments of all types.