But UK-born people are more likely to claim jobseekers' allowance
The story is based on number-crunching by the never-reliable Migration Watch, and quotes right-wing Tory MP Peter Bone saying:
“It would appear that while most migrants come here to work, a disproportionate number are coming for benefits.”
He says these people ‘are here to milk the system’ and should be ‘weeded out’.
There are two main problems with the story (among many).
First, the people in question are foreign-born, and could have lived in Britain for many years. To the Express, though, they are still ‘foreigners’.
Second, the benefits claimed are no indication of idleness or a ‘something for nothing’ attitude.
In fact, more UK-born people are claiming jobseekers’ allowance than people born abroad.
As the Express notes, (half-way down, in the front page story’s overspill on page 4):
“Payments such as income support, job seekers allowance, state pension, sickness and disability benefits, had higher proportions of Britons claiming.”
Are these people ‘milking the system’ too? Or is it only milking when ‘foreigners’ do it?
Meanwhile, the main benefits it lists as being claimed more by non-UK born people are child benefit and housing benefit, both of which can be claimed by people in work.
These are not ‘handouts’, they are legal entitlements for low-paid working people.
Not content with all this misinformation, the Express takes a sinister turn as it quotes Migration Watch’s creepy chairman, Lord Green of Deddington:
“Any sensible [immigration] policy should take account of the differences in economic characteristics between migrants from different parts of the world.”
Are we then to pick and choose by nationality who is allowed to live here, based on how much people already living here – divided by their country of birth – earn or claim in benefits?
Today’s story is only the latest example of the dog whistle to which the lips of the Express are permanently glued.
One modest reform would be that the paper, in the interests of balance, quote someone – anyone – who takes a different view, alongside the usual squealing reactionaries.
Adam Barnett is a staff writer at Left Foot Forward. Follow MediaWatch on Twitter
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