‘Ignore EU and ban migrant benefits’

Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith

Britain should be able to ignore European Union rules and ban some migrants from claiming benefits for up to a year, the Work and Pensions Secretary said on Monday.

Iain Duncan Smith said the Conservatives wanted to “go further” in reducing migrants’ access to benefits.

For legal reasons, the Government has only been able to stop EU migrants claiming benefits until they have been in Britain for three months, earning at the level at which employees start paying national insurance. The proposal, which comes into force this month, means migrants will have to show they have been earning at least £150 a week for three months before claiming benefits.

Mr Duncan Smith said the measure would stop people “taking advantage” of the welfare system.

The “minimum earnings threshold” is designed to stop some migrants gaining access to a range of benefits.

Previously, a loophole allowed EU citizens to claim thousands of pounds of benefits despite working only a few hours every week.

Mr Duncan Smith believes that the Government should cast aside EU regulations and impose even tougher sanctions on foreign workers. Speaking at the headquarters of Pimlico Plumbers in London on Monday, Mr Duncan Smith said ministers would try to go further with their benefits reforms, regardless of “what the European Commission tries to tell us”.

“We have also clamped down on those trying to manipulate the tax credits system – for too long a source of income for those in bogus jobs or falsely declaring themselves self-employed,” he said.