Newscast Media LONDON—The British government has unveiled tougher tests for
migrants seeking to claim income-related benefits in the UK.
The fresh tests, described by ministers as “more robust” questioning for migrant
benefit claimants, are set to be in place within five days at job centers across
England, Scotland, and Wales.
“It is vitally important that we have strict rules in place to protect the
integrity of our benefits system,” said British Work and Pensions Secretary
Iain Duncan Smith in a press release on Friday.
Under the new measures included in the British government’s changes to the Habitual
Residence Test, those migrants who cannot speak English well enough to find a job
face being denied benefits.
Migrant workers will be also challenged to prove that they were genuinely looking for
work before they came to the UK.
The rules are planned to apply to all overseas nationals and even to Britons returning
after living abroad. The move to tighten the tests comes at a time when London is
already in a legal battle with the European Commission, which describes as
discriminatory the rules limiting the rights of migrants to claim benefits.
“I fundamentally disagree and intend to fight the court action – believing that the test
is not only legal, but vital in order to protect the British benefits system from abuse,”
In late November, British Prime Minister David Cameron announced plans to tighten up
welfare rules for migrant workers from the 28-member bloc amid concerns over a
possible surge in the number of Romanians and Bulgarians coming to claim benefits
when European Union (EU) working restrictions are lifted in January 2014.
However, EU Justice Commissioner Viviane Reding described the UK welfare system as
overgenerous, saying potential problems from the influx of migrants are the fault of
the British authorities.
Source: Press TV