Yesterday 25 March I was at home listening to Prime Minister David Cameron Speech on the above subject and my thoughts started to wonder if his speech is on the borderline of xenophobic, racism, or fascism so I put it to the readers what say you folks?
Lets not forget that immigration cannot be controlled as such this is because of many historic reasons for this and the next question is should the three main political parties be pandering to the likes of UKIP Party based on their ideology or should we be looking at the root causes of why we have an immigration problem?
Granted the UK boarders have been opened since agreeing to the Schengen Agreement this has been the sticking point for all the political parties. I don’t advocate to do away with it but to address it in a positive way.
Secondly I will continue to advocate that UK was built on immigration and our foreparents who came to this country started on jobs that most English men and women refused to do which helped to simulate this country which has led to the success of multiculturalism and diversity here today.
Granted there are a few bad apples that abuse our welfare system but they are far and few. Most who came to the UK does invest in employment and create jobs. Thank god for that and let’s have a positive discussion about the benefit system. This coalition should look at ways on how to close the loopholes when they appear as many will continue to argue for.
Labour Party should stop continue to apologising for their pass misgiving on immigration and move forward as we have had many spin towards immigration. Instead the party should be challenging or hold the coalition to account over the budget.
Which leads me to the next issue on the budget day the very reason why the coalition is on the attack on migrant benefits whether be it housing, council tax, using our NHS or other benefits. Lets not forget about this and I put this to my readers is it about time this coalition stop pandering to the likes of the far Right agenda to the outlet of the media which is promote scaremongering.
A speech by David Cameron on immigration has run into trouble after Downing Street clashed with the health secretary, Jeremy Hunt, on the cost of treating European patients on the NHS and No 10 struggled to back up the prime minister’s claims with hard statistics.
As the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants (JCWI) accused Cameron of increasing intolerance, the prime minister said it was right to tackle immigration that was “badly out of control” under the last government.
However, the speech was in danger of unravelling after Hunt directly contradicted Downing Street over the costs of treating patients from the European Economic Area (EEA) on the NHS. The EEA includes all 27 members of the EU plus Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway.
The prime minister’s spokesman said the NHS should recoup a further £10m to £20m towards the costs of treating EEA nationals on the NHS under reciprocal agreements. “We are looking at how you can better recoup costs from EEA countries,” the spokesman said. “It is a question of the NHS getting better at being able to take and follow-up the information it needs in order to recoup those costs.”
Amid criticisms that £10m to £20m was relatively small figure on which to make such a major policy announcement – the NHS budget is more than £100bn a year – the health secretary disputed the No 10 claim. Appearing on Radio 4’s The World at One as the prime minister was still speaking, Hunt said: “It is a huge issue. I don’t think those numbers are at all accurate.
“The reason is because hospitals, if they treat someone who is not entitled to NHS care – if they declare that person is a foreigner who is not entitled to that care then they have the responsibility to collect the money from that person. Whereas if they declare that person as a UK national then the money is paid for by the NHS. So we have created a strong incentive for hospitals in the system not to pick out the people who aren’t entitled to free NHS care. That is one of the things we need to change.”
Asked how much he thought the NHS was losing, Hunt said: “I don’t want to speculate on what that number might be. But the number we have heard is actually not £20m, it is £200m. I think it is significantly more than that.”
Downing Street also struggled as it emerged that:
• Of the two million net migrants to the UK from the eight eastern European countries that joined the EU in 2004, just 13,000 people have claimed jobseeker’s allowance (JSA). This figure was not disputed by No 10.
• A claim by No 10 that there has been a 40% increase in the number of social lettings taken up by migrants between 2007-08 and 2011-12 appeared to gloss over the fact that this was only an increase from 6.5% to 9% in the proportion of such lettings.
The prime minister said it was important to act on immigration as he set out plans to restrict access to benefits for immigrants from the EEA and beyond. He announced, as expected, that JSA would only be available to those genuinely seeking a job for a maximum of six months.
He also announced that EEA immigrants would have to show a decent command of English. Cameron said: “We’re going to make that assessment a real and robust one, and yes, it’s going to include whether your ability to speak English is a barrier to work. And to migrants who are in work but then lose their jobs the same rules will apply. Six months, and then if you can’t show you have a genuine chance of getting a job, benefits will be cut off.
“This means that EEA migrants who don’t have a genuine chance of getting work after six months will lose their right to access certain benefits. So yes, they can still come and stay here if they want to, but the British taxpayer will not go on endlessly paying for them any more.”
The prime minister was scathing about Labour’s record. “Under the previous government immigration was far too high and badly out of control. Net migration needs to come down radically from hundreds of thousands a year to just tens of thousands.
“And as we bring net migration down so we must also make sure that Britain continues to benefit from it. That means ensuring that those who do come here are the brightest and the best, the people we really need with the skills and entrepreneurial talent to create the British jobs and growth that will help us to win in the global race.”
Habib Rahman, chief executive of the JCWI, said: “This rhetoric may curtail rights to benefits on a minor scale, but relatively few migrants compared with ‘indigenous’ people actually claim benefit anyway. The real effect of this speech will be to further increase the intolerance and the hostile reception that immigrants are facing from some sections of society.
“There’s nothing new about people from these countries coming to live and work in the UK. This media hysteria denies the fact that immigration helps our economy and is a great boon to tackling the coming demographic imbalanced posed by our ageing population.”
The government will need to react quickly if a benefit cut for social housing tenants leads to rises in rent arrears and homelessness, MPs say.
Public Accounts Committee (PAC) chair Margaret Hodge said it could have a “severe impact” on low-income families.
It is alleged that estimates supplied to the BBC by some of the largest housing associations suggest many tenants are not currently planning to move home to avoid the cut.
The government said better use had to be made of social housing stock.
From 1 April, changes to housing benefit (HB) affecting working-age social housing tenants deemed to have spare bedrooms will mean a 14% cut for those with one extra room and of 25% for those with two or more.
The controversial measure – which will see affected tenants lose an average of £14 a week – has been dubbed the “bedroom tax” by Labour, though the government has been at pains to argue it is not a tax but a curb on “spare room subsidies”.
The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) expects 660,000 social housing tenants to be affected by the cut across Britain.
Ms Hodge said: “The DWP says it can’t accurately predict the effects of its housing benefit changes either on individuals or on the housing supply.
“Instead it will rely on a ‘wait and see’ approach and monitor changes in homelessness, rent levels and arrears so that, where there is a need, it can intervene and respond.”
The committee said this placed “greater responsibility on the Department to react quickly when the changes are made”.
Ms Hodge warned: “Even small reductions in housing benefit can have a severe impact on the finances of the poorest people.”
“The department must decide in advance exactly what actions it will take in response to increases in homelessness or rents.”
Stay or go?
The government says the change brings housing benefit for social housing tenants in line with its provision in the private sector, where size criteria already apply.
Intended to reduce a £21bn annual housing benefit bill, the measure is also supposed to encourage greater mobility in the social rented sector.
Of 50 housing associations across the UK contacted by the BBC, as well as a number of local authorities and ALMOs (arm’s length management organisations) providing housing on behalf of councils, 21 social housing providers supplied estimates on the number of tenants saying they were planning to stay in their home or downsize.
Among them was Riverside Homes, with 51,493 properties and an estimated 6,602 households affected by the cut.
It estimated that 5,018 – 76% of affected tenants – were currently planning to stay in their home.
Another respondent, Glasgow Housing Association – with 41,400 homes – estimated that of 6,100 affected tenants, some 4,800 – 79% – were currently planning to stay in their home.
Community Housing Cymru Group (CHC), representing 70 housing associations in Wales, estimated that of 40,000 affected claimants, more than 36,000 – 91% – would stay in their homes.
Wales is expected to see a higher proportion of working-age HB claimants hit by the cut – 46% – than any other region of the UK.
A number of housing associations said that moving large numbers of people considered to be under-occupying social homes was unachievable simply because there were not enough smaller homes available.
CHC said that 88% of housing associations in Wales would have a mismatch of properties if they tried to downsize all under-occupying tenants facing a benefit cut.
“Not because tenants are needlessly under-occupying larger homes, but because there is a national shortage of affordable homes, especially one and two-bed properties,” said CHC spokeswoman Bethan Samuel.
Angela Forshaw, director of housing at Liverpool Mutual Homes (LMH), said half of its stock of more than 15,000 properties comprised three-bedroom homes.
“We have just 2,800 with two bedrooms, so downsizing everyone affected – and most don’t want to move – is impossible,” she said.
With the vast majority of affected tenants expected to try to find the extra rental money themselves, housing associations raised concerns including:
- Increased financial difficulty for tenants
- Tenants running up rent arrears
- Increased costs to housing associations of rent collection and evictions
- A rise in doorstep lending
- Damage to communities from increased turnover in social housing and less affordable, larger homes remaining empty
They also warned that people who responded to the benefit cut by leaving social housing could end up claiming more housing benefit in the costlier private sector.
However, for single mother Kellie Parsons the changes provide some hope for larger accommodation.
She lives in a one-bedroom flat with her three-year-old son, Dylan, in Dukinfield, Greater Manchester.
She shares the bedroom with her son, and has been trying to move to a bigger flat for three years – since becoming pregnant.
“The living room is just cluttered with stuff, it’s too small, and there’s no garden, there’s only a veranda which is too dangerous for him so we barely use it.
“There’s just no area for him to play, not even outside because there are just too many cars.”
She said she hopes that the changes will be an incentive for people to downsize from bigger properties, allowing her to exchange via home swap schemes.
“I’ve been trying to upgrade for three years. I’ve been doing it pretty much every single day.
“I think these change of benefits would actually help because people [will] downgrade, so it would help me to move quicker. I’m hopeful, positive about it.”
The DWP points out that with one third of working-age social housing tenants receiving housing benefit for homes larger than they need, that amounts to one million extra bedrooms currently being subsidised.
It hopes its measure will enable better use of available social housing stock, and improve work incentives for affected tenants.
“We expect people to respond in different ways to the changes to the Spare Room Subsidy – some will move and some will make up the difference in their rent by moving into work, or increasing their hours,” a DWP spokesperson said.
“But when in England alone there are nearly two million households on the social housing waiting list and over a quarter of a million tenants are living in overcrowded homes, this measure is needed to make better use of our housing stock.”
Are you a social housing tenant? Are you planning to move home to avoid the cut? Send us your comments using the form below.
Lastly to finished I enclosed a letter from the DWP which the coalition is applying the pressure to DWP staff to hand out to jobseekers if they refuse to attend the work programme sees below for details:
To help you back to work you have an interview then it goes on to say:
If you are due to sign on this day, you only have to come at the time above.
What will happen at the interview?
We will look at your Jobserker’s Agreement to see if it is still helpful. We will talk with you about jobs, training and other ways of helping you back to work. We will also tell you about help you may get when you find work.
To get Jobserkers Allowance and credits of National Insurance you must be looking for a job. At the interview you must tell us what have you done to find a job, it is easier if you write this down. Being any letters you have about jobs you have applied for and anything else to prove that you have been looking for a job. If you cannot show that you are looking for a job a decision maker may have to decide if your Jobseekers Allowance and National Insurance credits should be stopped.
We will refund your travel costs(the cost of travel by the cheapest way) if your interview is:
Not on the day you sign on; or
Not at the place you sign at and you have to pay more to get there.
Please telephone us immediately on 08456043729(textphone 08456088551)
Please notify us BEFORE the interview appointment whenever possible.
To get Jobseekers Allowance you must come to interviews when asked to do so unless you have a good reason for not coming. Please tell us as soon as you can before the interview the reason why you can’t come. Your benefit could be suspended unless we agree to postpone your interview. If you do not attend the interview we will have ask a decision maker to decide if you have a good reason for not coming. You must tell us within five working days of the interview if you want your reason to be considered by the decision maker. If they decide that you do not have a good reason your Jobseekers Allowance and National Insurance Credits may be stopped.