Ministers consider halting benefits for young workers to keep migrant pledge
It has emerged that ministers are now considering plans to stop young Britons from claiming in-work benefits because it the Tory manifesto pledge to apply the restrictions solely to EU migrants would be ‘prohibited under current EU law’ according to the BBC.
The rule which intended to stop EU migrants claiming benefits within the first four years of living in the UK would also stop Britons aged 18-22 claiming benefits too, with an estimated 50,000 people that will be affected.
The Conservative election manifesto stated that they will stop EU migrants claiming benefits such as tax credits and child benefits until they have been living in the country for four years, however in a document linked to the BBC government lawyers advised ministers that they do not have the powers to do this under the current EU law. “Imposing additional requirements on EU workers that do not apply to a member state’s own workers constitutes direct discrimination which is prohibited under current EU law,”
David Cameron has said that as part of his renegotiation of Britain’s terms of membership, he wants to change aspects of the EU treaties which determine the EU law; however this will not be complete before the deadline he has set for the British referendum on EU membership in 2017.
Stephen Timms, the acting shadow work and pensions secretary, told the Today programme that the revelation showed that Cameron’s EU renegotiation was failing, and that it was unfair for young Britons to be penalised as a result.
“It certainly sounds as though these negotiations are not going well and ministers are waking up to the fact they won’t be able to deliver the renegotiation they’ve promised,” he said. “I think most people would take the view it would not be acceptable for ordinary UK citizens to be badly hit because the government’s renegotiation efforts have not succeeded.”