Young people's benefits the collateral damage as Tories target migrants

Tue, 11/08/2015 - 13:03 -- nick

A key Tory promise in the last parliament was that they would reduce the number of migrants into the UK.

Whether you think this was a good idea or not, they missed their target by miles, and have been looking around for ways of showing the electorate that they are still tough on immigrants even as the key measure goes against them.

Seasoned Tory watchers won't be surprised to hear that their favoured mechanism for bashing those coming into the country is to refuse them benefits for a period, settling on four years as a 'reasonable' time.

Those workers coming in from Poland, France, Spain and elsewhere will not be able to get disability benefits, JSA, tax credits, housing benefit or any other state payment for four years after coming here, regardless of whether their children are living in poverty or how much tax they pay.

There is an irony within the government's approach: the European Union, from where most migration comes, stipulates that none of its citizens can be treated differently no matter which country they come from.

In other words, the Tory plan to take benefits away from EU migrants is illegal because these payments are available to British people and the EU says this isn't allowed.

Or at least they were available to UK citizens.

A reasonable government would simply step away from this policy having seen it ruled out, but this unreasonable one wants to push on with it.

The only way this can happen is if they ban everyone within this country from receiving benefits for the first four years of their adult residency, so now discussions are focusing on no British-born person getting support until they are 22 years old.

The party that removed benefits from 16-18 year olds, and more recently took housing benefit from 18-21 year olds, may now become the party that takes social security from everyone until they are 22, when they may have been paying tax and national insurance for six years, and when they may have no other income options.

This path can only be expanded in the future: why this age and not 25, or 30? The security the state used to offer those in need is being eroded again and again, and with Iain Duncan Smith and David Cameron apparently discussing making people save for their own unemployment and sickness payments, it looks like welfare may become a thing of the past for everyone in the UK, no matter where they were born.

The Conservative government sees an opposition in disarray and an unexpected House of Commons majority and wants to exploit it to roll back the protections for poorer people that have taken generations to establish.

Increased migration is being used as yet another justification for hurting those who can least resist.