LONDON Jan 20 Britain will stop helping jobless
immigrants from other countries in the European Union with their
housing costs from April, two cabinet ministers said on Monday,
saying they wanted to reverse "a shameful betrayal" of British
In comments likely to further strain tensions with EU
officials who have accused Prime Minister David Cameron's
government of scaremongering about intra-EU immigration, the
ministers said they were acting after evidence showed British
workers were being displaced by migrants.
Cameron's Conservative-led government is seeking to counter
the popularity of the UK Independence Party (UKIP), ranked as
Britons' favourite political party, by toughening rules on
immigration and welfare benefits.
Opinion polls show British voters rank immigration as one of
their biggest worries, though business leaders have cautioned
that they have trouble finding low-skilled workers to do low
wage jobs of the kind often filled by migrants.
From April, new EU arrivals will not be able to receive both
unemployment benefit, known as jobseekers' allowance, and
housing benefits, Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith
and Home Secretary Theresa May said.
"From the beginning of April we will be removing entitlement
to housing benefit altogether for this group (of EU
job-seekers)," Duncan Smith and May wrote in a joint article in
Britain's Daily Mail newspaper.
The article, headlined "This Shameful Betrayal", said
British workers had been betrayed by a system which left them on
the sidelines while giving foreigners jobs.
"These new immigration and benefit checks will clamp down on
those trying to exploit the system," the ministers said in the
Responding to concerns about the lifting of work
restrictions on Romanians and Bulgarians, Cameron in December
rushed out regulations to stop EU migrants being able to claim
welfare benefits as soon as they arrive. Under the rules, they
have to wait three months before they can apply for welfare.
EU officials have repeatedly criticised Britain for its
tough attitude on migration, straining already tense relations
between Brussels and London over Britain's desire to renegotiate
its 40-year-old relationship with the EU.