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Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Labour turns its attention to restricting EU migrants' access to in-work benefits

Iain Duncan Smith's opposite number, Labour's Rachel Reeves, has written an interesting piece on EU migrants' access to welfare for the Mail Online, in which signals an important shift in Labour's policy.

Last week we noted that IDS had set out that he wanted to restrict EU migrants' access not simply to out-of-work benefits but also in-work benefits such as tax credits - something that our Research Director Stephen Booth and LSE Professor Damian Chalmers proposed in a recent Open Europe pamphlet.

Reeves sets out three proposals to reform the EU rules on access to welfare. Firstly:
"We believe that it is right to extend the period that EU jobseekers need to live and support themselves in the UK before claiming out-of-work benefits from three months to two years."
This had been hinted at by senior Labour figures before. But, for the first time, Labour have said they also want to address in-work benefits:
"We must also look at the role of in-work benefits. It is far too easy for employers in Britain to undercut wages and working conditions by recruiting temporary workers from elsewhere in Europe on very low pay and with no job security, knowing that the benefit system will top up their income." 
"So while some have said that we cannot negotiate changes to benefits paid to people in work, I am determined to look at how we can deliver reform in this area too."
As we have noted before, restricting access to this low-wage welfare supplement could reduce the incentive to migrate to the UK for the lowest paid jobs as the UK's system of in-work benefits can make a significant difference to the incomes of the lowest paid.

And thirdly, Reeves has said:
"We will work with European countries to end the absurdity of child benefit and child tax credits being claimed for children living in other countries."
This is near unanimous consensus among all the main parties on this point.

The change in stance on in-work benefits is significant and would have the biggest impact, and it is therefore interesting why this wasn't given top billing in the article?


jon livesey said...

We should all be amused by this development. While accusing Cameron of imitating the UKIP to avoid loosing votes, Labour is doing the same thing itself.

Interestingly, according to recent figures from Rochester, UKIP seems to be taking more votes from Labour than from the Tories. At the beginning of the campaign it was the other way round.

Anonymous said...

Like puppets on a string, Labour and the Tories are dancing to Mr Farage's tune and are proving that UKIP was right all along.

There is, of course, the minor problem that the EU will not allow us to do what Labour and the Tories are proposing.

Issue Today said...

I do agree that immigrants need to search for a job before they enter social benefits. However lately I read that the non-British labourers were the ones who cost the least money compared to natives.

I wrote an article on my blog about the opening of the Bulgarian border at the start of this year. You can read it here: http://2ndchamber.blogspot.nl/2014/01/the-opening-borders-for-romania-and.html

christhai said...

It is NOT the benefits which are the MAIN problem.

It is the number of EU Immigrants.

There is NO limit up to half a billion.

The EU is economically sick and getting sicker by the day.

Whole countries in the EU have been devastated by first French then German policies.

There are very few British people who don't know that Cameron is lying when he says he can solve the Immigration Problem.

The ones who do believe him are either in special institutions or as bright as an EU lamp.

Big Business which sponsors the EU Commission NEED cheap labour.

The new EU Colonies provide this - Poland, Romania, Bulgaria.

Accordingly, the EU's Cheap Labour pillar or as they call it "Freedom of Movement" cannot be touched.

So the ONLY (there is NO other way) is for the UK to leave the EU.

The ONLY way to leave the EU is to vote for UKIP.

Rik said...

Too little too late.
Labour has simply lost the EU membership and immigration wars.
Cameron isnot really doing a great job on these, but Labour is simply awful.

Hard to see that any relevant groups of the electorate will be buying any of this and certainly not before next election.
Simply too close to restore their credibility on this issue.
It starts far worse than Cameron did 2 years ago and have less than a year left. While Cameron still has a lot of work to do.
Being the last one to move hardly makes it better, looks more like you finally have seen the light.

Plus in Labour there will always be for the public credible representatives that say hallelujah Europe and 3rd world refugees. Simply not the organisation in which you can change strategy on these issues.

On top of that they have an image problem on that as well. Like Obama needs more wartalk than Goerge W to be credible. And Goerge W needs more social talk than Obama to be credible.
Labour needs harder rhetoric on both these issues to be as credible as Cameron is.
On both these issues as IP has done a very good job in linking these 2 issues in the eyes of large parts of the electorate.
These issues are highly related and the communication of IP was simply spot on.
While a lot of the Labour so called strategists simply havenot make the link themselves yet.

Rik said...

That should probably be the strategy for IP. Try to win large groups from Labour. There is the volatility. A lot of the groups they are suppsed to be representing simply donot fit in together in modern days. On top of that the representation process sucks. Left wing irritating academics with no experience in real life representing welfarereceivers, social conservative semi middle class workers, old fashioned workers.
Get into the 20s structurally for general elections. No fit at all were it not for historical reasons.

That way become a credible alternative for the 2 big parties.
Subsequently go for the voters that would vote IP if it was credible managementwise.

Scotland shows you can be an incompetent populist liar and still get nearly 50% of the vote.
Basically because things didnot fall apart when they become the Scottish government.
And an utter crap in campaign.
And England is hardly more positive about its traditional politicians.
become credible as management of the country and you will be the biggest party.
Even giving the impression that things would not fall apart when IP is in No 10 could be enough.
The traditional campaigns are very likely to be rubbish as well.