MEDDLING Euro MPs have provoked fury by heralding a £4million scheme to publicise Britain’s lucrative benefits and health care system to people from across the Continent.
The money will be squandered on a campaign highlighting every citizen’s right to move from country to country within the EU.
But commentators pointed out last night that the plan was an easy way of advertising Britain’s soft-touch welfare system and could encourage millions of people to travel to the UK for access to it.
The publicity programme, contained in a report put forward by a Greek MEP, prompted howls of outrage among campaigners and raised fears of a fresh flood of benefit tourists descending on the UK.
Britain is already the destination of choice for tens of thousands of eastern Europeans every year because of our generous state handouts compared with their home countries.
Those from Romania, Bulgaria and other poorer countries in eastern Europe need only sell the Big Issue for a few weeks before they are entitled to claim thousands of pounds each month in child, housing and council tax benefits, tax credits and even disability living allowance and carer’s payments.
We know that many will come to Britain because of our generous benefits system
Ukip Euro MP Gerard Batten
In contrast, some 73,000 Romanians were kicked off their country’s social assistance scheme in February this year in a bid to get its ballooning welfare bill under control.
Child benefits in Romania are a fraction of those in Britain. The state pays just £40 a month for children up to two years old when the benefit drops to only £8. In the UK, parents get more than £20 a week for their first child and an additional £13 for each one after that. And Britain’s free health services are also very attractive to visitors.
The impending end of the work restrictions on Romanians and Bulgarians will fuel fears of a new wave of migration to the UK and revive memories of the flood of eastern Europeans that arrived when eight former Soviet bloc countries joined the EU in 2004.