Rachel Reeves

A future Labour government would restrict access to benefits for EU migrants arriving in the UK, it has been announced.

Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary Rachel Reeves said Labour would work with other EU countries on extending the period EU migrants must wait before they can claim out-of-work benefits, from three months to “at least two years”.

Secondly, a future Labour government would limit in-work benefits paid to EU migrants, “to tackle undercutting by employers who rely on low skilled migrant labour”.

Labour would also stop child benefit and child tax credits being claimed for children living in other countries.

Labour claim House of Commons figures show up to £700 million of working-age benefits goes to EU migrants. And also that the government does not collect information on how long these benefit recipients have been living or working in the UK. Some may have worked for several years, say Labour, but others may be relatively recent arrivals.

According to a Labour analysis of House of Commons Library figures, there are 252,000 in-work families from the European Union claiming tax credits and there are 48,000 single people from EU countries claiming Working Tax Credit.

Labour’s apparent shift on immigration will undoubtedly reinforce the view shared by many people who say Labour is trying to “out-Tory the Tories”, or are copying UKIP. This view will have been further strengthened by the party’s pledge to continue down the road of austerity, be it in a “fairer way”.

The Conservatives called for a three-year ban on migrants claiming out-of-work benefits in the UK, while UKIP say it should be as long as five years. David Cameron would also restrict in-work tax credits for EU migrants, as part of a more widespread clampdown on immigration to the UK.

Any attempt to restrict UK benefits for EU migrants from any political party could be met with opposition from European Union officials and its member states.

Figures suggest EU migrants are more likely to be in-work than British nationals and immigrants are net contributors to the UK economy (£25bn). However, this does not take into account impact upon schools, housing, the NHS and other critical infrastructure.

Most experts agree the NHS would struggle to survive if not for migrants (including from the EU) working as nurses, doctors and in other roles.

Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary Rachel Reeves MP said:

“This week I’ve held a series of meetings in Brussels with EU government ministers, senior MEPs and members of the European Commission to discuss Labour’s plan to extend the period that EU jobseekers wait before claiming out of work benefits for at least two years, limit in-work benefits paid to EU migrants and stop child benefit being claimed for children living abroad.

“These measures will ensure our system is fair, and seen to be fair and put fairness and contribution back into the benefits system”, she said.

“Most migrants come to Britain to work and pay more in taxes than they claim in benefits. However, reform to our benefits system is essential when the latest figures show around £700 million of working-age benefits is being spent on EU migrants and millions more is sent abroad in child benefit for children who don’t live in the UK.

“The Government have had four and a half years to sort it out but have failed to deliver the changes Britain needs. David Cameron even said stopping child benefit being sent abroad would be, ‘difficult if not impossible’ to stop. No wonder he’s failed to deliver the reforms to Britain’s benefits system fairer. Millions of pounds of child benefit and child tax credit being sent abroad every year is yet another example of Tory Welfare Waste.

“A Labour government won’t admit defeat when it comes to delivering a fairer benefits system. We will deliver the changes that are right for Britain through negotiation and reform.”

What do you think of Labour’s proposals? Leave your comments below.


  1. I know it was probably not going to happen in case it taxed your mental stamina too much, but you really should have read the article.

    “The controversy between the supreme national judicial organs and the ECJ proves
    first of all that both parties have kept their autonomy in their jurisdictional
    domains. This also challenges the thesis
    about the subordination of State law to EU
    law. Despite close connections between them, they do not remain in the relation of supremacy”

    In other words the national legal systems do not accept, and never have, that the ECJ and EU law has primacy in national issues. The author of the piece sets out the arguments as to why the ECJ maintains that view, but shows it is not actually true.

  2. Treating EU migrants differently from UK citizens is illegal under EU law and EU law has primacy over UK law.

    Therefore both Labour and the Tories are telling lies as things stand at the moment.

    The only way to implement the idea is to make all benefits dependant on controbutions for both UK citizens and migrants. That’s how it used to be and worked perfectly well.

    • EU law never has primacy over national law. If you mean EU regulations voted through by parliament and now UK law you would be correct. The EU can only intervene as part of a due process, not otherwise. For example, if someone wishes to appeal UK law on immigration for example, they go through our courts, and then, and only then, if they have been granted the legal right (the High court accepts the lower courts may have erred in law) can they take it to the EU courts. Currently no citizen, be they of EU origin or UK can claim benefits without having earnings of £153 for the last three months. Non EU citizens cannot claim benefits full stop. If you are an EU citizen and you arrive out of work, again there is no entitlement to benefits.

      Do you ever check your facts, or do you just get everything you come out from UKIP’s webpages? 😉

      • An EU citizen can come here, declare themselves self-employed and claim working tax credits.

        Perhaps you would care to comment on the opening sentnce of this German Law Journal piece?

        “The primacy of Community law over national law of the EC/EU Member States was recognized as one of the constitutive principles of the Community legal order as early as before the signing of the Treaty establishing a Constitution for Europe on 29 October 2004.”


        Whether or not a national government passes an EU directive into national law is immaterial, EU law still has primacy.

  3. There is certainly ‘ no smoke without fire ‘ regarding immigration quotas and DWP feet-dragging – issues of alleged unfairness to National Insurance and benefits awards should be re-visited as the current system has been creaking under strain for many years. As long as a United Kingdom Government is taking its ‘orders’ from and via Bruxelles & Strasbourg the inaccuracies will persist and voting public will be as confused as anyone in Govt due to misinformation and suck-thumb-statstics received in statistical formats from the [D]ONS and DWP Whitehall Manadarinas. Dept @DONS should be audited for their source information and all facts verified

  4. I would prefer a commitment to retrospective sanctions on Tax Evasion tactics employed by multi- millionaires and corporations who are based overseas to take advantage of vast earnings in this country yet not paying tax on them.
    I give examples of Lord Rothermere owner of the Daily Mail and Tory party donor and Amazon who have Tax Evasion (Fraud?) down as an art form. How many Tory millionaire’s benefitted someway from family off shore banking?
    The ‘GREED” culture that thrived and developed during the 80″s as banks and traders made fortunes on the international stock exchange that ultimately led to the Banking crash. Are those that caused and benefited most from the growth and prosperity now contributing fairly towards getting the UK out of this hole? NO
    If my suggestion of retrospective sanctions of the rich were put in place perhaps offer the chance of paying 50% of Tax avoided on earnings for example over 10 years otherwise the Government could reclaim money in the form of assets. How quick would the economic situation be resolved? The NHS funded? Better and fairer standards for ALL?
    Isn’t that what Ed Milliband claims is the ethos of Labour “Fairer Society” – Please give it to us fairly rather than by the unfair austerity measures of a self serving “Rich Mans” government.

  5. The problem (which they do NOT discuss) is the wide open borders. It seems England must allow all EU citizens to enter the UK. Does that EU ruling also apply to Eritreans, Somalians, Arabs, various Africans etc etc..because This country is bowing under the pressure.

    We should not allow a sea of muslims to enter and remain.

    There has been a massive flood from EU countries just as predicted. Will every green field be concreted over in the unseemly rush to build homes for the new comers? Where are the jobs these people want? Not enough work to go round.

    • Drivel, and frankly I’m sick of hearing it. We do not, and never have had ‘wide open borders’. We have tough Immigration laws brought in since WW2 by both the Conservatives and ‘soft on immigration’ Labour. Every act has made it harder, not easier to enter the country and become resident. The EU regulations are with regard to the ‘right to work’. They do not stipulate you have to allow any immigrant, without passing any criteria, into the country. You have to be actively seeking, or preferably already have, work. Each immigrant is then issued with the relevant work licence if, and only if, they satisfy the Home Office, not the EU’s, criteria.

      The comment about Muslims is pure racism so I can’t even be bothered to reply to that. It’s sickening.

      The number of Immigrants that are granted residency in this country from the whole World is around 10,000 every month. According to the ONS that is. The rest, nearly 500,000 and the figure that always for some reason gets quoted by Tories and UKIP and of course now Labour, the vast majority (300,000 avg) are students, or on temporary stay licences for work. Anyone seeking asylum from a brutal and oppressive regime is slapped into ‘detention centres’ by another brutal and oppressive govt. Ours.

      There is no evidence at all we are ‘overcrowded’ as we have a huge excess housing stock. There are 100,000 new builds on the way, and 640,000 empty properties in the UK. There are schools all over the country desperate to fill their rosters due to a decline in births (we are down from 2.5, to 1.5 children on avg), and the NHS is struggling due to cuts and creeping privatisation not due to ‘immigrants’. Having more people working, which according to the ONS again, the overwhelming majority of resident Immigrants do, means more NI and tax coming in. Of course they won’t see any fruits of their labour in that area as our cynical, race card playing politicians, are seeking to ban them from applying for Benefits for a given period. Essentially then, migrant workers will be propping up our welfare state by their hard work. Fair?

        • That’s nice, someone presents facts and figures and instead of rebuking him/her like in a proper debate with evidence contrary to his/her argument instead you try and attack the person claiming their in ‘cloud cuckoo land’…

          I despair sometimes…

        • Thanks for proving everyone that thinks UKIP are a party of non thinking bigots 100% correct. Once the facts are given the only retort is ‘what, you some kind of nutter’ or equally pointless words to that effect. UKIP supporters may not be shaven headed and ranting at rallies in the centre of Britain’s towns, but they have exactly the same mentality as their BNP kin.

          • There was no thinking in the comments I responded to. It as all “Wouldn’t it be nice” with no thought about how it could actually be made to work or the consequences.

          • To what are you referring? If it’s my post I just stated the facts. I did not argue whether the situation is ideal or otherwise. Therefore any attempt to imply otherwise is pure wishful thinking on your part. Please stop wasting my time with pointless assertions that have no basis in fact. Ironically, exactly the same as UKIPs policies.

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