Migrants sending more than £1m of child benefits home to Eastern Europe EVERY month

Daily Mail
16th September 2007
More than a million pounds a month in child benefit is going to youngsters who live in Eastern Europe, ministers admitted yesterday. The money is being paid out to 14,000 Eastern European nationals who claim for offspring living in their home countries. It is the first time the Government has acknowledged that the payments – funded by British taxpayers – are going abroad. Even larger sums in tax credits for children are thought to be paid to recent migrants from Eastern Europe but ministers insist that total figures are ‘not available’. Scroll down for more

More than a million pounds a month in child benefits is going to youngsters who live in Eastern Europe
Tory treasury spokesman Philip Hammond said: “There are 200,000 more British children living in poverty than a year ago. Child benefit is a vital weapon in the fight against child poverty. “So why is Gordon Brown sending thousands of pounds of benefits every week to children who do not live here and who may never have even visited the UK?” Migrants from the eight countries that joined the EU in 2004, including Poland, have the right to claim in-work benefits if they have a job. After a year working in Britain, they can claim the same level of state support as any citizen. According to figures released earlier this year, nearly 70,000 from the eight Eastern European countries new to the EU are claiming child benefit, a universal payment made to anyone with offspring. This is worth £18.10 a week for the first child in a family and £12.10 a week for other children. If all the 14,000 claimants in question had just one child, the total they received would be £253,400 a week – or more than a million pounds a month. But these payments may be dwarfed by the amount paid out in tax credits, which could produce £100 a week to a migrant worker with a child or children in another EU country. Around 40,000 Eastern European citizens were said by ministers to be claiming tax credits this summer. The figures on child benefit were released by Treasury Financial Secretary Jane Kennedy in a written answer to MPs. She declined to give any information on the amount paid in tax credits. Around 700,000 Eastern Europeans are thought to have come to Britain since their countries – Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Slovakia, the Czech Republic, Hungary and Slovenia – joined the EU three years ago. The Home Office expected 13,000 a year to come. The Home Office also gave assurances that Eastern European migrants would be unable to exploit the benefits system, by drawing up rules which meant they could not claim unemployment and out-of-work benefits until they had been working here for a year. But benefit claims by Eastern Europeans now swallow £ 125 million a year. One in six of the new migrants is thought to claim some kind of state benefit. Knowledge of the benefits system is now widespread among Eastern European workers. The biggest Polish newspaper in Britain, the Polish Express, last week ran a story headlined Benefit Hunters which claimed: “The longer we are in Britain, the more rights to social security we are given and the better we are taking advantage of them.” It gave advice on how to claim and described the case of one Polish migrant who was given a two-bedroom house shortly after applying to a housing association, without any need to join a waiting list. The paper said: “The formalities concerning an application for social security are extremely simple. Do not delay in submitting an application.”