UK

Department For Work And Pensions' Response Shows Its Lack Of Evidence For 'Benefit Tourism'

05/01/2016 22:13 GMT | Updated 06/01/2016 13:59 GMT

The Government has failed to provide any evidence to prove that migrants are travelling to the UK in order to receive in-work and out-of-work benefits.

In a request submitted by Neil Kinnock, the former Labour leader asked the Government to back up the claim that benefits are a factor in encouraging immigration to the UK from other European Union states.

But in the response from the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), the Government said that the benefits system is "one of a range of factors in attracting migrants to Britain", without providing clear evidence to support the claim.

Jonathan Portes, Principal Research Fellow at the National Institute of Economic and Social Research, highlighted that the response from the Government shows that it "admits" it does not have any evidence to support its claim on "benefit tourism".

In the written question, Lord Kinnock wrote: "To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they will provide all factual evidence they have, together with their sources, that UK in-work and out-of-work benefits are a factor in encouraging immigration to the UK from other EU member states."

The DWP's response read: "The benefits system is one of a range of factors attracting migrants to Britain.

"Net migration to the UK stood at 336,000 in the year to June 2015 according to the November 2015 Migration Statistics Quarterly Report from the Office for National Statistics, and EU nationals are a significant contributor to recent increases.

"Meanwhile, an analysis of administrative data held by the Department for Work and Pensions showed that between 37% and 45% of all recent EU migrants were in households supported by the benefits system as of March 2013."

Lord Freud, to whom the statement is attributed to, added that the Government had already introduced "tough new measures" to migrants seeking benefits, adding that the Prime Minister is pushing further reforms.

The Huffington Post UK has contacted the DWP for comment.

Last month, it was revealed that ministers refused to publish official migration figures because their release would be "unhelpful" to David Cameron's EU renegotiation process.

Portes criticised the government spurning his query as feeding a "paranoia and mistrust in official statistics".

"To deny the British public access to facts and data the government has - as opposed to the government's negotiating strategy - seems to me to be bad for the public debate," he told the BBC's World At One programme.

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