Expats could face a loss of state welfare as MPs consider a reserve strategy if Prime Minister David Cameron fails to secure a deal to stop migrants claiming benefits with the European Union.
Part of Cameron’s main demands is that European migrants will face a ban on claiming benefits if they come to the UK for up to four years.
Leaders in the main migrant countries, such as Poland, Romania and the Baltic States are heading a group of countries opposed to discrimination against migrants moving within the European Union.
However, MPs in Westminster sitting on the Work and Pensions Select Committee have issued a statement confirming they are looking at how to change the British welfare state system from non-contributory to contributory.
Concern for expats
The matters they want to consider include:
- A residency condition on claiming benefits that leaves current UK citizens eligible for free benefits but bars new arrivals from claims
- How much working age citizens should contribute as welfare payments
- How a contributory system could compensate non-workers, such as carers
The first point will be a worry for expats returning to the UK after becoming non-resident.
Committee chair Frank Field said: “We will start this work straight after Christmas because it looks as if the Prime Minister will not make a lot of progress in Europe on this point.
“We will consider how residency and financial contributions will allow people to access the welfare state.”
Welfare is not fair for all
Field explained the committee wanted to look at changing how welfare benefits are claimed for two reasons.
“Voters have told us for a long time that they do not regard the state welfare system as fair to all and that only those who contribute should gain from the system,” he said.
“We also think the Prime Minister is wasting time on a debate that is going nowhere and we should change the UK into a national welfare state and not an international one where anyone can come and take without giving.”
If the committee produces a set of recommendations accepted by the government, which is by no means a certain outcome, this would see the biggest shake-up of the welfare state in Britain since the end of the Second World War.
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