The End of benefits for EU migrants?

The Home Secretary, Theresa May, announced further measures, on behalf of the Coalition Government, for the limits of EU migrants’ benefits access. In line with the Prime Minister David Cameron, she stated that EU migrants will no longer be allocated to Jobseeker Allowance (JSA) and Housing Benefit unless they prove they contribute to the economy. As she said, by this way “we will clamp down on those trying to exploit the system”!

The first step to restrain the benefits access started on the 1st of January 2014. Since then, according to the new rules, no migrant is allowed to take benefits unless they have lived in UK for 3 months, and if they haven’t found any job after 6 months of stay their benefit access will be withheld. The Coalition seems decisive to destroy the protective frame of the new immigrants as a whole. By this way, they are trying to create a suffocating environment for those who have just arrived to the UK and are making their first steps, setting up their lives again.

More specifically, the Jobseeker Allowance (JSA) is a supportive measure for people who have recently arrived to UK, in the form of £56.80 per week for a single person under 25 or £71.70 for 25 and over, based on your present income sources, and savings which need to be less than £16.000. Housing Benefit is given to people who are also on low income/claiming benefits, who pay rent and whose savings should also be less than £16.000, and varies in amount between Councils. In addition to the above, by the 1st of April, the government will implement a further change: for those immigrants who lose their jobs, Jobseeker Allowance and Housing Benefit will no longer be available. The thought behind that is that EU migrants “should demonstrate they have been putting something back in the economy in order to claim benefits”, as the Home Secretary said.

Their aim couldn’t be more obvious. In view of the impending European elections and the increasing influence of the far right-wing parties, such as the UK Independence Party (UKIP), the Coalition is desperate to find a victim to blame for all the economic and social problems their policies have given birth to. By categorising the workers in UK nationals and migrants, they are trying to separate the working class so as to lessen our power. There is no other way for them to impose their austerity measures. In addition to that, we listened with great interest the recent delusion of the Conservatives accusing the ex-Government of Labours that, between 2003-2010, priority was given to foreigners rather than UK nationals and as they said, now this is reversed and 90% of the new jobs are given to British people and only 10% to migrants! They are driving us back to the dark era when “British people were fighting for British jobs”.

No matter how much effort the Coalition makes to persuade the British people in regard to immigrants’ benefits as the source of their poverty, this is far from reality. The truth is that since the very past, immigration has been a beneficial factor for the UK economy and culture as well. Not only hasn’t the UK lost earnings, but also through immigration, numerous workers and scientists have contributed to the production of wealth of this country without the UK spending any pound for them. Secondly, the new measures reveal us that the migrants are not the only victims: Loss of the Jobseeker Allowance includes not only the EU migrants, but also UK nationals who used to live abroad and have just returned to the country. It couldn’t be more obvious that this measure will start from the migrants and a few British and then, provided it’s implemented, sooner or later it will encompass all the UK nationals as well.

In view of the above, our response needs to be prompt, massive and loud. The right is on our side, the side of all the people who were forced to move from their country and now work abroad. It’s us and the British workers who produce the wealth in UK and we share common interests for unemployment and house benefits, for better salaries, for high quality, public, free Health and Education system. It’s only us and the British workers who can stop them from destroying our lives.  Fighting for maintaining and enhancing the migrant benefits is a common fight among all the Europeans who live and work in the UK, a common fight among all the immigrants. It’s a common fight among us and the British people, a common fight of the whole working movement in the UK. Venceremos!

ANTARSYA UK

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