Green MEPs: Cameron's clampdown on 'benefits tourism' is destructive myth-making

27 November 2013

Prime Minister David Cameron’s proposed clampdown on so-called ‘benefits tourism’ is rhetoric based on myths which will hurt not help the health of the British economy and society, say Green MEPs Jean Lambert and Keith Taylor.

Cameron has set out radical plans to overhaul welfare rules including stopping new arrivals from the European Union getting out-of-work benefits for three months.

Lambert, London's Green MEP and the Green Party's immigration spokesperson, said: "This is all about deflecting attention from benefit cuts, and not really about protecting UK benefits and public services at all.”

"'Benefit Tourism' is a myth - not borne out by the facts at all, as the EU Commission and the OECD have made clear. In fact, those born outside the UK tend to pay more tax, and claim fewer benefits, than those born here - they are, as a group, net contributors to the public purse.

"Overwhelmingly, people come here to work and some come because they feel safer here than in their home-country: both of these say very positive things about the UK. Cameron prefers not to recognise that - he's too busy looking for the next set of benefit cuts."

Taylor, Green MEP for South East England, said:

"A great tragedy of the latest round of immigration myth-making is the utter reluctance of the old political parties to stand up to the Tories on this. We'd expect nothing sensible from UKIP of course but for the Lib-Dems and Labour to perpetuate these myths is deeply disappointing.

“This hard talking rhetoric from the Government is based on myths. We know that the effects of so-called 'benefits tourists' has been shown to be hugely overblown. Indeed we also know that the UK makes full use of free movement in Europe with hundreds of thousands of British Nationals living in other EU countries.

“Yet time and time again the Government shift the blame for the problems we face onto new arrivals in the UK. The proposal to deport rough sleepers from other EU countries is truly cruel.”


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