UKIP claim they are “straight talking”. They plaster the phrase all over their leaflets. They think if they talk louder than everyone else and do it with a pint in one hand and a fag in the other, the public will de factor believe them.
Well in Basildon, UKIP call it straight talking and everyone else just calls it lying.
CLAIM: UKIP claims there are 26 million unemployed people across Europe after your job
The total number of EU migrants who came to the UK last year is less than 1% of 26 million. And even then many of them were students, not unemployed workers. This isn’t a serious claim.
CLAIM: Immigrants can claim benefits straight away
This is untrue.
Unless non-EU immigrants have indefinite leave to remain – i.e have lived in the UK for 5 years or more – you can’t normally claim benefits, such as income support or housing benefit.
EU migrants cannot claim benefits unless they have been in the UK for more than 3 months and are settling in the UK – which means passing what’s called the Habitual Residence Test. Labour wants to extend this period to 6 months.
CLAIM: Most immigrants claim out of work benefits
Overall, migrants pay more in taxes than they claim in benefits and only 2.6% of EU migrants claim unemployment benefits. The rest are working, studying or supporting themselves, for instance a retired person living with family. Non-EU migrants usually can’t claim benefits at all.
CLAIM: Immigrants get priority for housing
This is not true. The previous Labour Government changed the rules so most foreign nationals who have recently come to England are not eligible for social housing.
The current and previous government have also put in place powers new guidance so that Councils can ensure people have a local connection before getting housing.
New research from the House of Commons library shows that foreign nationals who arrived in the past two years make up 0.5% of those living in social housing.
CLAIM: We can’t do anything about EU immigration and that’s what people are worried about
We can. We can have longer and stronger restrictions on new EU countries, which Labour is committed to.
We can also ensure EU migration is not used to exploit and undercut local jobs and wages. Serious exploitation and undercutting should be a crime and only Labour will do that.
We can also change Europe to make the system fairer.
What level will immigration be under Labour?
We believe immigration was too high and we want it to come down.
But we won’t set a false target for all immigration as the Government has done because that has badly failed. They promised net migration would be in the tens of thousands. In fact it is going up and is over 200,000 – more than double what the Tories promised.
We believe there should be different kinds of controls and targets for different kinds of immigration. So we should not tolerate illegal immigration. We should have less low-skilled immigration. We will continue with the cap. And routes that are open to abuse, such as student visitor visas, should be toughened up. But we also know that university students and doctors coming to work in our NHS are valuable and shouldn’t be reduced.
Overall the pace and scale of immigration under the last Labour Government was too high and we support measures to bring it down.
Will Labour stop free movement of labour in Europe?
We believe free movement of labour needs to be reformed.
We are calling for changes to benefit rules so people coming to look for work are not able to claim benefits for the first 6 months, that people who commit crimes having not been in the UK for long are more easily deported, and for longer transitional controls for new countries joining. And we believe Europe should look at this for the long term. But we don’t believe it is in Britain’s interests to pull out of Europe.
Why is Labour moving to the right on immigration?
We’re not. Neither a right wing reactionary completely closed door policy nor a right wing free market completely open door policy is right for Britain. We know immigration is important for Britain but that’s why it needs to be properly controlled and managed so the system is fair for all.
By stopping exploitation and reinforcing NMW for all, aren’t we just making it even more desirable for EU immigrants to come here?
Exploiting immigrants make them a cheaper option than local workers. That’s the problem we need to tackle.
Immigration and wages
Whilst there is no evidence of an overall impact on wages, some studies have shown that for the lowest paid, there was a small downward pressure on lower wages as a result of immigration.