The EU Referendum is now a matter of days away, and with the odds so close on either side, it is impossible to call whether, by the 24th June, Britain will be in or out of the EU. With as good a chance as any that Britain will back independence after Leave voters top the polls, what might this mean for poorer families claiming benefits from the state? How are their rights affected? Will there be negative consequences for those that are most vulnerable?
Although claiming benefits is undeniably surrounded by stigma, a lot of people genuinely need financial support from the state in times of need, whether it be Job Seeker’s Allowance through unemployment, child tax credits to support a young family or disability allowance due to an unexpected accident. We all may need to rely on state support sometime or another, but will it be as readily available after a Brexit?
The main concerns should a Brexit occur are understandably employment, housing prices and wages in general. But what about the benefits that thousands of Britons need each year? According to pro-remain MP’s, being a part of the EU is beneficial for welfare, and a Brexit poses a big risk to this. However, Leave Campaigner and former secretary for the Department of Work and Pensions, Iain Duncan Smith suggests the opposite. He claims that instead of having the duty of sending out benefits for migrant’s children, some who are not even living in the UK, the government will have the means to focus on our country. He calls the actions of providing for migrants an ‘absurd practice.’
Although benefits are ultimately controlled by the UK government and provided by them, the EU has also had its say in the way benefits work,l and with a Brexit, this could amount to big changes. It is likely that the government will go further in their quest to cut benefits to migrants, which may on the surface appear beneficial, but if the government goes into recession following a Brexit, they will have less money in the first place. As a result of this, a rise in benefits may not occur as the government will not have the capacity to be more generous, even if they wanted to.
It has also been warned that low income households may see a financial burden should Britain leave the EU and in a worst case scenario could lose over £5000 a year in tax credits and benefit payments. This is due to nothing other than a knock on effect. Leaving the EU would mean lower tax receipts and it is believed that a cut to benefits will be their first money saving tactic. Households will be affected when a Brexit worsens trade.
A lot of the attraction to vote Leave is because of a promise that less benefits are going to go to migrants leaving outside of the UK and instead will be handed to people in Britain. Whilst this appears to be a logical and fair solution, many people are saying that leaving the EU will not solve this and the solution is not as simple as some are making out.