We’ve had a look at the numbers and there are some interesting results. It's now widely known that the Government hugely underestimated the number of people that would come to the UK after enlargement. But it’s also becoming clear that their claims on the numbers claiming benefits are wrong by at least a factor of 10.
As we've written before, in 2004 the Government promised to put in place a system which would stop EU migrants coming to the UK to claim benefits. Only a month ago they told Parliament that this had been successful; the proportion of Eastern European migrants claiming benefits was "under 1%".
For the first time yesterday the Government published figures for the number of repeat applications to the Worker Registration scheme – which gives us a more accurate (and lower) total number of people who have worked in the UK. If we divide the update figure on welfare claims by the new lower total we get a ratio of benefit claims of one in six or 16% of A8 migrants drawing benefits in the UK. The proportion claiming is also rising at quite a rate. So far this year 45% of migrants have made successful claims for welfare payments. We have said it before – but what we want is people free to move around to work, not to claim benefits.