In the lead up to the EU referendum, Migrant Voice is concerned about the way EU migrants are represented as a burden, with a debate constantly focusing on benefits and numbers.
“We know from our members they come here to work, not to claim benefits. This debate doesn’t reflect the facts and we are concerned that it leads to hostility towards EU migrants. It does not serve the referendum debate and is also damaging to community cohesion. We should be welcoming the contributions that European migrants make to all sectors of society,” said Migrant Voice Director Nazek Ramadan.
Proposals to curb benefits to Europeans will not reduce levels of immigration because migrants come here to work, not to rely on benefits. The facts show that EU migrants contribute far more to the economy than they receive in benefits - EU migrants have contributed 64% more in taxes than they received in benefits. And they make up only 2.2% of people on out of work benefits and 5% of tax credit recipients.
Research also shows that about 2.5% of Britons in other EU countries are claiming unemployment benefits – the same level as the roughly 65,000 EU nationals claiming jobseeker’s allowance in the UK. Dr Roxana Barbulescu, researcher on international migration at the University of Sheffield, says these figures mean that “the overwhelming majority of Brits abroad as well as European citizens in Britain are not an undue burden for the countries in which they live.”
Former home secretary Alan Johnson responded to the proposal by explaining why it will not have the intended outcome of reducing the number of people coming to the UK. He told the media that: “The issue of in-work benefits isn’t a draw factor … There are all kinds of factors why people choose to move round Europe. I don’t think that [in-work benefits] is one of them.”