ANY restrictions on health and welfare benefits for immigrants from EU states would have to apply equally to UK citizens under EU law, Downing Street acknowledged yesterday.
Reports had suggested changes could be rushed in before Bulgarian and Romanian citizens gain full rights to move to the UK at the end of the year, amid concern about “welfare tourism”.
Ministers were said to be considering making immigrants wait for up to a year after settling in the UK before being able to seek hospital care.
The proposed changes could form part of a drive to restrict immigrants’ access to benefits, council homes and public services. But it is understood any restrictions would have to be based on residency, rather than nationality – meaning British nationals might also be required to prove their entitlement.
However, the spokesman rejected suggestions that people might be required to show “entitlement cards”.