Curb migrant benefits, says Labour

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LABOUR has called for a crackdown on some benefit payments to European migrants living in Britain.

Yvette Cooper yesterday acknowledged fears about the impact of Bulgarian and Romanian migration when restrictions are lifted next year.

The shadow home secretary called for “sensible action” on welfare, including a “presence test” that would prevent migrants from immediately making benefit claims.

But in a major speech in London – which comes after Ed Miliband’s admission in a party 
political broadcast that Labour got it wrong on immigration when in power – Ms Cooper insisted Britain must not “pull up the drawbridge”.

“Most people who come to Britain from Europe work hard and contribute more in taxes than they use in public services or claim in benefits,” she said.

“But the system needs to be seen to be fair. Giving people the right to work in other countries is not about people getting support from other countries if they don’t plan to contribute.

“So the government is right to look at this area. But so far, they have come up with no specific, practical proposals and are engaged in a frenzy of briefing and rhetoric instead.”

Ms Cooper said the presence test would help “clarify” that “people will be expected to be in the country for some time or to contribute before they get something back”.