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Parliamentary questions
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6 May 2011
E-004473/2011
Question for written answer E-004473/2011
to the Commission
Rule 117
John Bufton (EFD)

 Subject: Benefits tourism
 Answer in writing 

From 1 May 2011, hundreds of thousands of migrants will be able to apply for full benefits in the United Kingdom after only three months of residency.

Welfare benefits such as jobseekers allowance, council tax and housing benefit will be available to them, whereas migrants previously had to demonstrate a year of employment in the UK.

Since 2004 — despite predictions that only 13 000 workers would come — more than a million have officially registered and 650 000 are still in the UK. The unofficial number could be far higher.

The change in rules also means that more migrants will be able to claim welfare benefits for children still in their home country. Currently, 32 000 children in Eastern Europe are paid maintenance from Britain.

The UK system is generous and, in terms of currency value, offers benefit levels far higher than domestic welfare payments in most EU countries.

A growing sense of resentment in many Member States, including Germany and France, reflects a public that is increasingly disenfranchised.

What will the Commission do to prevent EU migrants from moving to other parts of the Union to claim welfare?

What sort of restrictions will be drawn up to prevent widespread benefits tourism?

How will the Commission prevent mass migration of citizens from one part of the EU to another, with a potential economic impact on both the domestic and the recipient Member States?

 OJ C 314 E, 27/10/2011
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