London’s Green MEP Jean Lambert has accused Tory PM David Cameron of trying to deflect attention from his own government’s benefit cuts by announcing measures to reduce benefit payments to nationals of other EU countries – over a million of whom live in London.
“This is all about deflecting attention from benefit cuts, and not really about protecting UK benefits and public services at all,” she said.
“People should bear in mind the principle that EU nationals are entitled to treatment on the same basis as a national, including access to social security- so what is Cameron’s message to us, if he’s planning to change the rules? That you will lose your right to benefits if you have no realistic chance (defined by whom?) of finding work after six months? That if you are homeless, you cannot be looking for work and will be punished accordingly?
“‘Benefit Tourism’ is a myth – not borne out by the facts at all, as the EU Commission and the OECD have made clear. In fact, those born outside the UK tend to pay more tax, and claim fewer benefits, than those born here – they are, as a group, net contributors to the public purse.
“Overwhelmingly, people come here to work and some come because they feel safer here than in their home-country: both of these say very positive things about the UK. David Cameron prefers not to recognise that – he’s too busy looking for the next set of benefit cuts.”