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Benefits: A Magnet for Migrants?
The Mayor of Calais has said that the UK is seen as a ‘soft touch’ and that the benefits system is acting as a magnet for illegal immigrants. Natacha Bouchart, also said that the fences in place around UK borders make ‘everyone laugh.’ Speaking to the Home Affairs Committee, she said that the migrants were willing to die to come to England. In recent months, Calais has struggled with increasing numbers of migrants arriving and attempting to get across to the UK.
The Prime Minister David Cameron has pushed for ‘urgent action across the board’ and said that co-operation between British and French authorities to make sure that they can stop people getting onto trains or container lorries and coming across the channel. The official spokesperson for the Prime Minister said that the focus of the Government was to study the ‘pull factors’ and address them. She added that migrants now have to wait three months before beginning to claim Jobseekers Allowance and can only receive it for six months.
Just hours after Ms Bouchart spoke in front of MPs, a Conservative minister implied that the Government did not have full control over immigration and would never be able to stem the free movement of people within the EU. An insider told the media that the Government had taken ‘draconian’ steps to limit immigration but that all that had done was reveal how much of it they can’t control.
The news comes as this week, French police used tear gas to stop migrants climbing on trucks bound for the UK.
Benefits Cheat Spared Prison
A 43 year old woman from Derby cheated the taxpayers out of more than £61,000 in illegally claimed benefits. The amount is believed to be one of the highest ever investigated in Derby. Staff at the Department of Work and Pensions monitored the woman- who for six years claimed that she was living by herself, despite the fact that she was living with her husband during that period and even gave birth to their son.
This week, a judge at Southern Derbyshire Magistrates Court was told that the total amount of money that had been stolen according to the prosecution was £61,066. The judge gave the woman a 12 month prison sentence but suspended it for two years as he felt that putting her behind bars straightaway meant that her eight year old child would be the true victim of the case.
He said:[quote] “Anyone who claims illegally from the public purse to the extent that you did should expect a prison sentence. I am going to suspend it for a number of reasons: firstly, you pleaded guilty on the first day of your trial, secondly I have read your pre-sentence report which shows that you have been a victim of violence for a number of years, but above all, if I send you to prison today the person who will be the main victim in all this will be your eight year old child who will have to be taken into care.” [/quote]
Welfare Reform To Be Discussed At Conference
A conference dealing with the impact of welfare reform will begin today (29th October) in Belfast. The event will be hosted by the Northern Ireland Council for Voluntary Action and other community organisations.
Northern Ireland has been penalised by the Treasury for failing to endorse welfare reforms that were decided by Westminster in 2013. At the conference, Social Development Minister Mervyn Storey will be one of the speakers alongside other experts on the case from around the UK. He said:[quote] “Having listened to the concerns expressed by different groups of Northern Ireland about the impact of welfare reform, a package of measures has been developed by the Department of Work and Pensions as well as the HM Treasury. This package is the envy of both Scotland and Wales and delivering this package shows how local politicians can deliver real change for Northern Ireland. This conference gives delegates the opportunity to test these measures with the speakers from Great Britain on whether they would help alleviate some of the worst impacts introduced by the Welfare Reforms Bill that has been introduced in Great Britain.” [/quote]
Sinn Feín is opposed to welfare reforms. The Treasury’s fines amount to around £114 million which will be withheld from next year’s budget. One of the organisations involved in the event criticised that the outlined cuts will only further affect people who are in need. Advice NI said that they were snowed under by those wanting help and that they fear these numbers will increase further in the near future.
Welsh Child Poverty Rates Soar Amid Welfare Cuts
The number of UK children who are living in poverty has increased to more than a quarter as a result of certain measures put in place following the 2008 recession, according to Unicef. The charity has said that it is ‘no accident’ that child poverty rates has risen in the UK and fallen in other places such as Poland and Germany, putting the blame on low wages and benefits cuts.
A global report looking into the effect of the economic crisis on vulnerable children between 2008 and 2012 put the UK 25th out of 41 developed countries after child poverty increased by over 1% to 25.6 per cent. The report also discovered that there was an ‘unprecedented increase’ in severe material deprivation- which includes factors such as being able to pay the rent, heat their homes and buy food- in the UK as well as in Spain, Italy and Greece.
The charity advised an immediate review into the impact of economic policies on children to determine the continuing impact of the recession in order to ensure that any ‘imbalances’ are re-addressed. In August, a report in Wales found that some families are walking miles to a food bank to feed their family, and others without internet access have had their benefits cut because they are not able to search for jobs, a requirement of claiming certain benefits.