It was recently decided by the UK government that it would withhold benefits for those unemployed migrants that did not have the right to work in the UK- a decision that was unsurprisingly met with controversy, with a direct challenge being presented against it. However, the decision of the European court has ruled in favour of Britain’s decision, saying it has every right to suspend the benefits and that the decision will be going ahead, meaning the challenge against it has been rejected. The European Court of Justice defended the British Government’s decision saying it was justified in order to protect the country’s finances and overall it was a welcome ruling from both the Government and Remain campaigners.
Whilst Vote Leave are attempting to curb immigration, they were expressing how they felt it ridiculous that such a decision by the Government must be approved in a court in Luxembourg instead of making the decision independently, something that would not be required if we left the EU. The claimed the legal battles were not only unnecessarily long but also costly to our country.
The rights of migrants who are not legally residing in the UK, nor earning was first brought up in 2004, and the court ruling looked at cases that dated as far back 2004 when it was first disputed whether or not the rights of migrants that were ‘economically inactive’ and from the EU included receiving benefits from the British government. The habitual residence tests determines whether these EU citizens were eligible for the financial support. The benefit curb had been argued against by the European Commission as it said that the tests to see if EU migrants could claim child benefit and child tax credit would not be used for British workers. Whilst the court did admit that the new rule might cause some unfair treatment, it still ruled it as a necessary, legitimate objective in ensuring that the state’s finances are protected. The case was potentially an explosive one with the EU referendum being so close, but had a somewhat satisfying result.
It seems both Vote Remain and Vote Leave have one very little thing in common, and that is that they both gained some satisfaction out of the result in Luxembourg, with Vote Remain and David Cameron gaining approval on his benefit curbs and Vote Leave proving that we have little independence inside the EU, as a major decision about this country, was not even made in this country, which will benefit their case massively. In the hearing is was highlighted that the government wanted to make it clear that benefits were reserved for those migrants and other people in need, who had/have the right to reside in Britain. Leave campaigner, and former work and pensions secretary, Iain Duncan Smith expressed his anti-Europe views by saying that the European Commission should never have been allowed to challenge the decision in the first place, claiming that it was just a cost to taxpayers.
As a result of the ruling, child benefit will now be paid at a rate which takes into consideration the cost of living in the country of a child who’s parents have migrated to the UK. This will be put into action immediately for any new arrivals and not until 2020 for the 34, 000 already claiming.