Almost eight out of 10 (79 per cent) of people questioned for an opinion poll want work restrictions on the Eastern European countries to stay, the Daily Express reports this week.
The opinion poll results follow widely reported fears, fanned by the tabloid media, that the UK will be flooded with a new wave of immigrants after controls on Bulgarians and Romanians are dropped next year to comply with European Union freedom of movement rules.
The poll was commissioned by anti-EU campaign group ‘Get Britain Out’ (of the EU) who said it “proved” Britons want to take back control of their borders.
Group spokesman Tim Aker said: “Across all parties, regions and demographic groups, the public demands the Government retains its immigration controls on Romania and Bulgaria.
“The problem is that EU free movement rules allow anyone across the EU to come and live in the UK.
“They will be eligible for housing and social security without having paid a penny into the pot. Under the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights, free movement is essential to EU membership and David Cameron hasn’t a hope in hell of renegotiating it.
“This poll shows the British people want to take back control of their borders and the only way to do that is to leave the European Union.”
The ComRes poll, results show that 89 per cent of voters aged over 65 were opposed to the shake up. Across the country, opposition was strongest in Yorkshire and Humberside where 88 per cent of people quizzed were against ending the transitional controls.
In the West Midlands, the South-east and Scotland, the figures were 87 per cent, 82 per cent and 81 per cent respectively.
Opposition to the move crossed political allegiances. A total of 75 per cent of Labour voters and 73 per cent of Lib Dems were against relaxing border controls on the two former communist regimes.
Only seven per cent of those polled were in favour of the move, which is due to take place next January 1.
The anti-immigration pressure group MigrationWatch has estimated that around 70,000 immigrants a year could head to the UK from Bulgaria and Romania from next year.
It has warned that others could join them from the substantial communities of Romanians currently in Spain and Italy.
Sir Andrew Green, chairman of MigrationWatch, said: “This poll underlines the need for the Government to look very carefully at what can be done to ensure that our benefits system does not become an extra attraction for immigration from Romania and Bulgaria.”
Tory MP Philip Hollobone has estimated that the number of Bulgarians and Romanians living in Britain could rise to 425,000 over the next five years.
He said: “This poll shows that the British people are clear that immigration is already running at unacceptably high levels.
“To have another wave of immigration is going to make things even more difficult.
“It’s time the Government recognised the extent of public concern and enacted the emergency brake which it is entitled to do within the freedom of movement rules to ensure we aren’t swamped.”
And Nigel Farage, leader of the UK Independence Party, said: “This poll merely underlines the impossibility of Mr Cameron negotiating a deal with the EU that will satisfy the British people. A free country decides who can and who cannot enter through its borders.”
Transitional restrictions on immigration were imposed by the previous Labour government when Bulgaria and Romania joined the EU in 2007.
The Coalition extended the transitional controls but must remove them at the start of 2014.
EU rules state that freedom of movement can only be suspended in an “economic emergency”.
Coalition ministers say they are working to restrict migrants’ access to the welfare state to attempt to reduce the incentives for Romanian and Bulgarian citizens to head to the UK.
Immigration Minister Mark Harper yesterday insisted access to free healthcare will be limited to stop the NHS becoming an “international health service.” Entitlement to a string of welfare benefits will also be curbed.
Speaking to Andrew Neil on BBC’s Daily Politics show this week, Mr Harper admitted that EU migrants who come here to “work” have free access to the NHS and other benefits.
He did not explain why students from Bulgaria and Romania who want to study and work in the UK are forced to take out private medical insurance cover.
The Government has not said how many immigrants will come from the two countries from next January, which is impossible to accurately predict.
One option under consideration would see new arrivals sent back to Romania and Bulgaria if they do not have a job, but with hundreds of thousands of non-EU overstayers to deal with this is totally impractical.
EU migrants pass through the borders without a visa stamp, so how could the government ‘send them home’ if they did not find a job?
Some suggest that another would be to require citizens from the two countries to demonstrate they can support themselves financially for up to six months. But this is already an option under the ‘self sufficient’ claim that any EU migrant can make to live in the UK.
£55M IN CHILD BENEFITS SENT TO MIGRANTS’ CHILDREN ABROAD
In a separate story officials have revealed that migrant parents are claiming tens of millions of pounds of British taxpayers’ cash for children living abroad.
Up to £55million a year is being sent abroad for the benefit of foreign youngsters at a time when the Government is cutting payments for hard-pressed UK families.
The child benefit and child tax credit bill raised fears the sum will rocket when millions of Bulgarians and Romanians can come here freely next year. Details of the amounts being milked from Britain’s soft-touch welfare state under EU legislation prompted outrage yesterday. Matthew Sinclair, of the TaxPayers’ Alliance, said: “This is yet another example of the EU inflicting unfair rules on the UK which are landing taxpayers with a massive bill.”
Tory MP Priti Patel said: “Hard-pressed taxpayers will be appalled to see their pockets being pillaged to pay out millions of pounds in child benefit payments for children living in other parts of Europe.
“This is deeply unfair and demonstrates yet again that some European immigrants are using crazy EU laws to get away with abusing our benefits system. The Government must get these loopholes closed.”
Labour MP Keith Vaz said: “Most people would think it wrong for people to receive child benefit when the children are living abroad permanently.”
The figures for overseas-bound child benefits were published in Parliament yesterday. They showed that £55.1million is being paid out to 24,000 families with 40,000 children living abroad. More than £36.6million of that is made up of child benefit while the rest – up to £18.5million – goes on child tax credit for almost 7,000 youngsters.
Most of the cash goes to eastern Europeans, with Poland top of the list.
The details have come just weeks after the Government imposed cuts to child benefits for families where one bread-winner earned more than £50,000 a year and withdrew them altogether from UK households where someone had an annual wage over £60,000. Source: Daily Express.
Croatia joins the European Union (EU) on 1 July 2013 and the UK will introduce transitional arrangements to restrict Croatian nationals’ from full access to the UK labour market.
EEA nationals are normally allowed to enter and stay in the UK for for a period not exceeding three months unless other conditions are met, for instance if they exercise ‘treaty rights’ to work, study or declare themselves as ’self sufficient’.
However, most people ignore this rule or do not realise it exists, and the UK Border Agency (UKBA) do not pursue EEA national ‘overstayers’.
The UKBA website states:
An EEA or Swiss National, has the right to live and work in the UK (known as the ‘right of residence’) under ‘freedom of movement’ rules as long as:
- you are working here (and have obtained permission to work if this is required – for instance if your are Bulgarian or Romanian); or
- you can support yourself and your family in the UK without becoming an unreasonable burden on public funds – self sufficient.
On the subject of comprehensive sickness insurance, the UKBA website adds:
“If you are an EEA national in the UK as a student or as a self-sufficient person, you and your sponsored family members must have comprehensive sickness insurance for the duration of your stay in the UK.”
But it appears that only Romanian and Bulgarian students wishing to study and work in the UK are forced to take out private medical cover in order to obtain a yellow card permit to work.
Related immigration blogs:
Majestic College offer special packages for EU students. They also have a number of employers looking for staff right now and are willing to employ Bulgarians and Romanians.
For more information call Joanna on 0208 207 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org