Last month Labour said they want to increase the time new EU migrants have to wait before claiming in-work benefits — to two years. Not to be outdone in a disgusting competition to be toughest on migrants, Cameron announced he wanted EU migrants to work for four years before being eligible to claim.
Both parties want to restrict child trax credits and child benefit. The Tories also want to restrict access to social housing. The say they will deport all EU migrants who do not find a job within six months and introduce stronger laws to allow EU migrants sleeping rough or begging to be deported and refused re-entry.
Labour and the Tories are scrambling to out-do each other but also UKIP. Pandering to UKIP will only help UKIP grow. And it contributes to a general ratcheting up of anti-immigrant rhetoric.
The left has an urgent duty to reiterate the facts and step up our arguments against the rhetoric.
According to the Office for National Statistics only 2.5% of all those claiming Job Seeker’s Allowance in 2014 were EU migrants. European migrants pay more in taxes than they receive in benefits, a £20 billion net contribution between 2000 and 2011.
Cuts in tax credits hit the lowest-waged. Thinktank Open Europe calculates that if tax credits are withdrawn a single earner on the minimum wage will see their income drop by £100 a week, taking their pay close to the Spanish minimum wage. The policies of both Labour and the Tories are designed to reduce the disparity between the take-home pay EU migrants home get in the UK and in their country of origin.
Ironically Labour's Rachel Reeves, making the policy announcement said “the European single market should not be about a race to the bottom on working conditions”. But instead of arguing for the levelling up of conditions across the EU, and for regulations to prevent British employers paying migrant workers less, she advocated attacking the lowest paid and most vulnerable.
Labour’s Yvette Cooper said ““In terms of the migration that happens every single year, I think there is a problem with low skilled migration because of the scale and pace of it .” Yet recent research by University College London shows that 60% of migrants from western and southern Europe, and 25% of those from eastern Europe have a university degree, compared to 24% of the UK-born workforce.
Attacking the poorest does nothing to prevent the race to the bottom on wages and working conditions. Level up across Europe!
Detainee protest: stop this violence!
Protests have erupted at Campsfield immigration removal centre after a detainee was reportedly beaten up and put in hospital by a detention guard.
Between 60 and 100 detainees have occupied the courtyard to protest against the violence and the inhuman living conditions.
They are demanding: permission to see their friend; release of the (at least three or four) people forced into solitary confinement; punishment for the guard who beat up the detainee; an end to inhuman treatment, deprivation of freedom and separation from families.
As part of the detention drive, the government plans to double the size of Campsfield.
A national demonstration has been called for Wednesday 3 December.