Welfare Benefits for Migrants
If you’re in the UK for long enough you will certainly hear many scare stories about the amount of money that immigrants are claiming in the UK. In this article, we look at the actual truth behind the scare stories and if indeed visa holding migrants are eligible for welfare benefits.
So, what is the truth can visa holders claim benefits?
No, as are many stories in the media, most of these articles are pure sensationalism. Visa holders on any visa are not entitled to claim public funds and these include welfare benefits. Visa holders would come under the umbrella of non-EEA migrants and they are not entitled to benefits in the UK. Visa holders have to provide for themselves and the only benefit they get from the UK is the use of Britain’s National Health Service (NHS) for which they pay the Immigration Health Surcharge when they enter the country.
What migrants are they referring to then within these stories?
In general, they will be discussing EEA migrants. EEA migrants are allowed to enter the UK under freedom of movement rules between Britain and the European Union – they are as such EU citizens and entitled to these benefits
What difference will Brexit make?
At this stage is pretty hard to say what impact Brexit will have on welfare benefits for migrants. If one thing is for certain if freedom of movement ends, as seems likely in March 2019, then benefits for EEA citizens will likely stop. This is likely to be true at least for new ones entering the country. What the UK plans to do with the ones that are already here is difficult to say and it is one of the many challenges Brexit has posed to the UK’s economy and to the British Government specifically.
So what is the truth? Are immigrants a net cost to the UK?
Many studies over the years have shown that immigration is positive for the UK – of course, this can only be measured in monetary terms and it is very hard to quantify the less tangible elements. At least in pounds, immigrants do at the very least pay their way and actually many studies show that they produce significant profit for the UK. They also help to keep the population level up and that also helps to grow the economy. Businesses can find the staff required to support their business, this is one of the often ignored elements of the economic machine and is mainly ignored by British right-wing press.
In summary, migrants add more to the UK than they take away and non-EEA migrants are not entitled to welfare benefits – the inference they are is sheer sensationalism that is usually peddled by right-wing tabloids and is not supported. In reality, it is true however to say EEA migrants do claim benefits in the UK but it’s also clear that they also add significantly they are a net gain to the UK.