It was with much interest that I read David Cameron’s comments urging curbs on benefits for EU migrants. Under his plans, migrants would have to wait four years to claim certain benefits such as tax credits and access social housing.
This is, of course, a fallback position after EU leaders swiftly rejected proposals for the cap on migrant numbers originally proposed by the Prime Minister.
And it is set against the background of a “no ifs, no buts” pledge from Mr Cameron who, in the 2010 Conservative manifesto, stated that his aim was to reduce overall net migration below 100,000 by the next general election in 2015. The latest figures in the year to June indicate that this figure is now 260,000, rather undermining the Prime Minister’s credibility on the issue.
The impact of these latest proposals will be minimal. Those from Warsaw, Prague and Madrid do not come to the UK to claim benefits, but to work, and the public will not see this as the “fundamental” reform of the EU promised by the Prime Minister. It is a sticking plaster and this perceived failure to deliver an adequate level of reform moves us one step closer to the EU exits.