Is the ‘EU Migrant Welfare Bill’ as problematic as the Daily Mail claims? No.

by richardhutton

‘£886million… That is the eye-watering sum YOU pay in benefits to out-of-work EU migrants in just one year’ – so thunders the Daily Mail. Is the sum accurate? Yes. Is it a problem? No.

Needless to say, this Mail piece is distorting matters. The data in question is hardly a secret, despite the Mail’s claims to the contrary. It was alluded to in the government’s recent document, ‘The Best Of Both Worlds‘; in which they outlined their case for Britain remaining within a reformed European Union. The actual source, however, is a six-page report by the Department for Work and Pensions, released simultaneously; entitled ‘DWP benefit expenditure on EEA national-led claims 2013/14‘.

As it outlines, 5% of the DWP’s overall “Working Age expenditure” is on EU migrants living in the UK; while only 3% of DWP expenditure is on out of work benefits for EU migrants. The majority of DWP expenditure on EU migrants is on those who live in Britain, and are in work: it comprises 16% of overall in-work benefit expenditure. The £886 million figure relates to the out-of-work expenditure – of which half is on housing benefit. All of the in-work DWP expenditure on EU nationals in Britain is upon housing benefit.

It is therefore very difficult to contend that the UK is losing out, when this funding keeps people in homes owned by local British authorities; enabling the people in question to work. Moreover, these forms of social security are all available to UK nationals living/working in the EU. There isn’t a valid basis to the Daily Mail’s complaint on this – and whatever anyone thinks about Britain’s EU membership, it should at least be discussed on its actual merits, with honesty.