Cameron should demand EU fund to ease pressures on local services - IPPR
This is one of several ideas that can help the Prime Minister win over both EU leaders and the British public in his EU renegotiation talks. These include toughening up the rules on removing EU migrants who pose a public safety threat and targeting reform of benefits at out-of-work EU citizens rather than penalising those who are currently working.
IPPR believes that the Prime Minister’s current proposals on restricting in-work benefits for EU migrants will be highly difficult to achieve through the renegotiation and that there is little scope for securing measures that will significantly reduce EU migration to the UK. However, in order to preserve support for free movement among the British public, concerns about EU migration need to be addressed. There are ways forward for addressing these concerns that are likely to find support among other EU countries. These include:
• Welfare: Tightening rules on out of work benefits such as Housing Benefit and Universal Credit for EU migrants who lose their job within their first three years of working in the UK.
• Public Services: Creating an EU-level fund to assist local councils with alleviating pressures on schools, hospitals and housing created by sudden rises in immigration, similar to the Migration Impacts Fund which operated from 2009 to 2010. Britain would be a net recipient of such a fund.
• Crime: Strengthening the rules in the citizens’ directive on restricting the movement of serious criminals on public security grounds, in order to make it easier to expel criminals and prevent them from applying for re-entry for longer, from a maximum of three to five years.
• Integration: Changing EU law to allow the UK to require EU migrants to have an English language qualification and pass the ‘Life in the UK’ citizenship test in order to get permanent residence.
• Labour markets: Ensuring greater cooperation between EU member states in order to tackle cross-border exploitation of free movement by unscrupulous employers.
Marley Morris, research fellow on migration, integration and communities, said:
“Pressure on public services caused by EU migration is one of the key concerns of the British public, yet this does not appear to be on the Prime Minister’s agenda in his renegotiation strategy. But there is still time to change tack and demand that the EU help Britain’s public services where they are facing particular pressure on schools and GPs.
“There are also legitimate concerns about migrants’ access to out-of-work benefits and about the exploitation of free movement by criminals. If the Prime Minister wants a fair deal from the renegotiation, then he should focus on addressing each of these concerns.”
Notes to Editors
IPPR’s Unlocking the EU free movement debate is available here: http://www.ippr.org/publications/unlocking-the-eu-free-movement-debate
IPPR’s report last month ‘Freedom of movement and welfare: A way out for the prime minister?’ sets out in even more detail the benefit changes that Cameron could make in order to win support from Europe and satisfy the British public. See: http://www.ippr.org/publications/freedom-of-movement-and-welfare-a-way-out-for-the-prime-minister
IPPR’s 2014 report ‘Europe, free movement and the UK: Charting a new course’ stated that withdrawal from the EU would be a hugely retrograde step for the UK but that Britain needed to:
• Address the problem of vulnerable low-skilled employment in the UK
• Increase conditions on access to social security assistance for mobile EU citizens
• Reform of the rules around transitional controls for future accession states
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