In a week in which the Shadow Home Secretary will visit Basildon to
discuss immigration with local residents, I think it is important
that we set the record straight over UKIP's misleading statistics and
inform people of Labour's policies for government.
UKIP claim they are 'straight talking'. They plaster the phrase all
over their leaflets. They think if they talk louder than everyone
else and do it with a pint in one hand and a fag in the other, the
public will simply believe them. (It helps that they are the only
party in British politics not to have been placed under any scrutiny
by the media!)
in Basildon, UKIP call it straight talking and everyone else just
calls it lying and here is why:
UKIP claims there are 26 million unemployed people across Europe
after your job
total number of EU migrants who came to the UK last year is less than
1% of 26 million. And even then many of them were students, not
unemployed workers. This isn’t a serious claim.
Immigrants can claim benefits straight away
non-EU immigrants have indefinite leave to remain – i.e have lived in
the UK for 5 years or more - you can't normally claim benefits, such
as income support or housing benefit.
migrants cannot claim benefits unless they have been in the UK for
more than 3 months and are settling in the UK – which means passing
what’s called the Habitual Residence Test. Labour wants to extend
this period to 6 months.
Most immigrants claim out of work benefits
migrants pay more in taxes than they claim in benefits and only 2.6%
of EU migrants claim unemployment benefits. The rest are working,
studying or supporting themselves, for instance a retired person
living with family. Non-EU migrants usually can’t claim benefits at
Immigrants get priority for housing
is not true. The previous Labour Government changed the rules so most
foreign nationals who have recently come to England are not eligible
for social housing.
current and previous government have also put in place powers new
guidance so that Councils can ensure people have a local connection
before getting housing.
research from the House of Commons library shows that foreign
nationals who arrived in the past two years make up 0.5% of those
living in social housing.
We can’t do anything about EU immigration and that’s what people are
can. We can have longer and stronger restrictions on new EU
countries, which Labour is committed to.
can also ensure EU migration is not used to exploit and undercut
local jobs and wages. Serious exploitation and undercutting should be
a crime and only Labour will do that.
can also change Europe to make the system fairer.
level will immigration be under Labour?
believe immigration was too high and we want it to come down.
we won’t set a false target for all immigration as the Government has
done because that has badly failed. They promised net migration would
be in the tens of thousands. In fact it is going up and is over
200,000 – more than double what the Tories promised.
believe there should be different kinds of controls and targets for
different kinds of immigration. So we should not tolerate illegal
immigration. We should have less low-skilled immigration. We will
continue with the cap. And routes that are open to abuse, such as
student visitor visas, should be toughened up. But we also know that
university students and doctors coming to work in our NHS are
valuable and shouldn’t be reduced.
the pace and scale of immigration under the last Labour Government
was too high and we support measures to bring it down.
Labour stop free movement of labour in Europe?
believe free movement of labour needs to be reformed.
are calling for changes to benefit rules so people coming to look for
work are not able to claim benefits for the first 6 months, that
people who commit crimes having not been in the UK for long are more
easily deported, and for longer transitional controls for new
countries joining. And we believe Europe should look at this for the
long term. But we don’t believe it is in Britain’s interests to pull
out of Europe.
is Labour moving to the right on immigration?
not. Neither a right wing reactionary completely closed door policy
nor a right wing free market completely open door policy is right for
Britain. We know immigration is important for Britain but that’s why
it needs to be properly controlled and managed so the system is fair
stopping exploitation and reinforcing NMW for all, aren’t we just
making it even more desirable for EU immigrants to come here?
immigrants make them a cheaper option than local workers. That’s the
problem we need to tackle.
there is no evidence of an overall impact on wages, some studies have
shown that for the lowest paid, there was a small downward pressure
on lower wages as a result of immigration.
Don't forget to join Yvette and myself at the
immigration streetstall in Basildon town centre at 1pm on Wednesday
Feel free to come and talk to us about a whole range of issues,
including policing, streetlights, crime and immigration.