Roger and his views > Benefits System

Gales View - 4th December 2013

I have before me a letter from a former constituent now living in a “hot” country within the European Economic Area.  In it he writes:
“I am about 90. I was severely wounded in the lungs nigh unto death fighting for my Country in 1944 and I still suffer. I have a 90% disability pension and constant attendance allowance. Recently things have got worse and what I need now is warmth. Looking out of the window I see snow on the hills and more is forecast. Winter has only just started.  Were I an immigrant money would be showered upon me but as one who has fought and bled for my King and Country I am denied the little help that I need for keeping alive in the winter.”
There are huge misconceptions, propagated by some of the tabloid press, about the “luxurious conditions” in which “those who have chosen to leave Britain” live. The reality is that while those living within the EU at least receive uprated pensions, some disability and carers` allowance there are many others throughout the world who do not and the planned cessation of entitlement to Winter Fuel Allowance is just another kick in the teeth for those ex-pat who have paid their dues, in blood and treasure, throughout their active and working lives.
Contrast that, if you will, with the Euro-row that has faced the Prime Minister`s suggestion that we should dare to curtail payment of benefits, just for a pitiful three months, to those  exercising “freedom of movement” from within the EEA and who have contributed not a brass farthing to our exchequer through taxes, national insurance or even honest toil.  An EU Commissioner from Hungary, not a state with a great human rights record, has gone so far as to brand the UK as a “nasty country”. Brussels is now reported to be in turmoil because suddenly the Germans and even the socialist French government, appear to be following Mr. Cameron`s lead.
In a “View” that I wrote for the 2010 election I said that “Since the summer of 1997, when I and other Kent Colleagues, warned Blair`s Home Office Ministers of an impending tide of illegal immigrants the Labour government has failed to take robust and appropriate action and has presided over a shambles of an asylum and immigration system that has become chaotic and unfair.  The United Kingdom has a long and honourable tradition of accepting those, from wherever in the World, in genuine need of asylum. What we cannot do, though, is maintain an `open door` policy to allow all-comers to exploit the services provided by our taxpayers to meet the needs of our own people”.
Since 2010 the Government has reduced net immigration by one third. The time and the opportunity have now arrived  to clamp down on  the nonsensical EU-backed exploitation of our benefits system by non-contributors. The Prime Minister has announced that from 1st January EU migrants will face restrictions over the benefits that they can claim. This may well lead to a challenge in the European Courts but new case law in Europe has allowed the Government to now take this  decision and if some of the other major and developed EU countries in addition to France and Germany follow suit then the Eurocrats may at last have to recognise that EU President Barrosso`s assertion that “this movement is one of the most valued principles of the European Union citizens” will have to be seen in a different light.
We need to concern ourselves first not with “European Union Citizens”, whoever they may be, but with the Citizens of the United Kingdom – including those who have through force, necessity or choice  found themselves living outside our shores.

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