The Daily Mail: Propagating misinformation about immigrants. Again

The Daily Mail, propagating misinformation about immigrants to sell Iain Duncan Smith’s Welfare Bill, is cynical indeed, writes Ruth Grove-White of the Migrants' Rights Network.

Ruth Grove-White (@RuthGWhite) is a policy officer at the Migrants’ Rights Network (MRN)

Earlier this week, the front page of the Daily Mail pronounced:

‘Thousands of illegal workers claiming benefits: Loophole in the law costs taxpayers millions’

This story was also repeated in the Daily Express, and referenced in a Parliamentary Question by Conservative MP Priti Patel on Monday, who asked for assurance that this matter would be addressed by the government.

But was this story a real expose of ‘welfare abuse’ or a case of smoke and mirrors?

The story, as it ran in the Daily Mail, informed readers that 155,000 irregular migrants have been claiming sickness benefits and maternity pay, at a cost to the public purse estimated by an unnamed government source to run to ‘tens of millions’ of pounds.

But not to worry – the source reassured the Daily Mail that this ‘incredibly unfair’ loophole will be closed by the government’s Welfare Bill, due for release this week, which will start a ‘root and branch overhaul’ of the UK welfare system.

The analysis presented by the Daily Mail turns out, however, to be based on loose ‘guess-timates’, rather than on any new evidence about the number of irregular claimants of certain benefits.

The basis for the story is that claimants of Employment and Support Allowance (ESA), paternity, maternity and sick pay are not routinely asked to present proof of the right to work in the UK when they make a claim – these benefits can be granted on the basis of presentation of a National Insurance number. In theory this could mean that those working here with a false NI number could claim benefits to which they are not technically entitled, despite potentially having paid into the welfare system via taxes and NI contributions.

The problem, as asserted by the London School of Economics in 2006, is that there is no way of knowing how many irregular migrants may have claimed particular benefits in the UK, or even how many people are working irregularly here. Rather than a picture of rampant abuse of the welfare system, however, available research into irregular migrants indicates that they occupy an unenviable position at the bottom of the labour market, characterised by insecurity and often exploitation.

Interviews with irregular workers indicate that their primary concern is often to avoid detection by the authorities, making many unlikely to attempt to claim benefits to which they are not entitled. The lack of concrete information about this group of immigrants should not be a license to print guesswork as fact.

Ultimately, the timing of the Daily Mail article – released in the days ahead of Iain Duncan Smith’s Welfare Bill – seems to tell the real story. But propagating misinformation about immigrants to sell the public this policy is cynical indeed.

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32 Responses to “The Daily Mail: Propagating misinformation about immigrants. Again”

  1. Mehdi Hasan

    RT @leftfootfwd: The Daily Mail: Propagating misinformation about immigrants. Again: http://bit.ly/hYF1aq by @RuthGWhite

  2. Greg Sheppard

    RT @leftfootfwd: The Daily Mail: Propagating misinformation about immigrants. Again: http://bit.ly/hYF1aq by @RuthGWhite

  3. Cary D Conover

    The Daily Mail: Propagating misinformation about immigrants. Again …: The basis for the story is… http://tinyurl.com/4hfrwcd #HILARY

  4. Founder Fire

    #teaparty #912 The Daily Mail: Propagating misinformation about immigrants. Again …: The ba… http://tinyurl.com/4hfrwcd #RIGHTTOWORK

  5. worldenron

    RT @migrants_rights: RT @leftfootfwd: The Daily Mail: Propagating misinformation about immigrants. Again http://bit.ly/g44DXh

  6. Migrants Rights Net

    @ruthgwhite writes: Daily Mail – Propagating misinformation about immigrants. Again http://bit.ly/g44DXh

  7. sean gittins

    RT @leftfootfwd: The Daily Mail: Propagating misinformation about immigrants. Again: http://bit.ly/hYF1aq by @RuthGWhite

  8. Cary D Conover

    The Daily Mail: Propagating misinformation about immigrants. Again: The basis for the story is tha… http://tinyurl.com/4wd93ah #HILARY

  9. GM BME Network

    RT @migrants_rights: RT @leftfootfwd: The Daily Mail: Propagating misinformation about immigrants. Again http://bit.ly/g44DXh

  10. Demsey Abwe

    RT @migrants_rights RT @leftfootfwd: The Daily Mail: Propagating misinformation about immigrants. Again http://bit.ly/g44DXh

  11. Glyn Phillipson

    RT @leftfootfwd: The Daily Mail: Propagating misinformation about immigrants. Again: http://bit.ly/hYF1aq by @RuthGWhite

  12. Press Not Sorry

    RT @leftfootfwd: The Daily Mail: Propagating misinformation about immigrants. Again: http://bit.ly/hYF1aq by @RuthGWhite

  13. Marion Walter

    I should like the Press Council to do something serious about this – bit Iam not sure that it will. Really the journalist concerned and the paper appear to be into race hatred and providing ammo for the EDL (English Defense League.

  14. Mike Russell

    RT @leftfootfwd: The Daily Mail: Propagating misinformation about immigrants. Again: http://bit.ly/hYF1aq by @RuthGWhite

  15. RCT UNISON

    RT @leftfootfwd: The Daily Mail: Propagating misinformation about immigrants. Again: http://bit.ly/hYF1aq by @RuthGWhite

  16. peter kobi

    RT @leftfootfwd: The Daily Mail: Propagating misinformation about immigrants. Again: http://bit.ly/hYF1aq by @RuthGWhite

  17. Toffee TechNoir

    RT @leftfootfwd: The Daily Mail: Propagating misinformation about immigrants. Again: http://bit.ly/hYF1aq by @RuthGWhite

  18. jldowling

    RT @leftfootfwd: The Daily Mail: Propagating misinformation about immigrants. Again: http://bit.ly/hYF1aq by @RuthGWhite

  19. Ros Davis

    RT @leftfootfwd: The Daily Mail: Propagating misinformation about immigrants. Again: http://bit.ly/hYF1aq by @RuthGWhite

  20. Migrants Rights Net

    @ruthgwhite writes: The Daily Mail: Propagating misinformation about immigrants. Again http://bit.ly/g44DXh via @leftfootfwd

  21. Pegasus

    They never do anything and the damage has been done. Best case scenario they would have to write that the number of claimants they were given was not double-checked.

    Daily Mail are worse than scum and completely out of order.

  22. Heaven Crawley

    RT @migrants_rights: @ruthgwhite writes: The Daily Mail: Propagating misinformation about immigrants. Again http://bit.ly/g44DXh via @le …

  23. Jan

    This is the paragraph from the governemnt’s impact assessment, published today. Remember Daily Mail claims 155k illegal workers claiming benefits! (they would need to have some clear data to back that up you would imagine):

    Due to the difficulty in obtaining information on illegal workers, we do not know the number of people who will be affected by this legislation. Research by the LSE and the IPPR suggested that there may be around 620,000 adults who could be illegally present in the UK and do not have an entitlement to work. Although a large proportion of this number will have arrived on visitor visas, are unlikely to be working and will in time leave, if we assume that half of these were employed, and half of those employed in jobs were paying tax and national insurance contributions, this would produce an estimate of 155,000 (or 0.5% of the number of people working in the UK) who might be eligible to claim the contributory benefits or statutory payments despite having no entitlement to work in the UK.

  24. Migrants Rights Net

    The Daily Mail: Propagating misinformation about immigrants. Again http://bit.ly/g44DXh Read the update on this under comment no. 3

  25. babatunde rosanwo

    RT @migrants_rights: The Daily Mail: Propagating misinformation about immigrants. Again http://bit.ly/g44DXh Read the update on this und …

  26. Jose J Castillo

    R @HeyJude408
    RT @migrants_rights The Daily Mail: Propagating misinfo about immigrants.Again http://bit.ly/g44DXh Read http://tl.gd/8t4qkc

  27. Migrants Rights Net

    The Daily Mail: Propagating misinformation about immigrants. Again http://bit.ly/g44DXh Read the comment no. 3

  28. IpswichCAB

    RT @migrants_rights: The Daily Mail: Propagating misinformation about immigrants. Again http://bit.ly/g44DXh Read the comment no. 3

  29. natecla

    RT @migrants_rights: The Daily Mail: Propagating misinformation about immigrants. Again http://bit.ly/g44DXh Read the comment no. 3

  30. Kjartan Sveinsson

    I’ve always wondered why the DM and its readership have made the decision to be passionately anti-immigrationist. Of all the causes in the world, they think this is a just and important one. Never mind child poverty, the environment, world peace, or any other politically correct topic. No, it’s far more important to campaign against the welfare abuse of irregular migrants. That (along with eliminating wheelie bins) is the most noble cause worthy of Daily Mail support. Baffling.

  31. Poppy

    I think the Mail, and the rest of the right-wing press, which spread lies and hatred about immigrants, public sector workers, disadvantaged people and anyone else they don’t perceive as fitting their “middle class conservative values” ought to be required to print evidence to back up their claims. It’s frankly scary how much influence they have. Often people at work tell me that it is the fault of immigrants that there are no jobs. My usual riposte is that it’s the fault of Tory governments and capitalism that there are no jobs, but they refuse to believe it. Very, very scary.

  32. Daniel Pitt

    RT @leftfootfwd: The Daily Mail: Propagating misinformation about immigrants. Again: http://bit.ly/hYF1aq by @RuthGWhite

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