Socialist Worker

Racist myths are attempt to shift blame from real con artists

Issue No. 2287

Usually we hear that immigrants are taking all our jobs. Now we are told they’re taking all our benefits too. “370,000 migrants on the dole” declared the Daily Telegraph. “Stop this abuse of British hospitality” demanded the Daily Mail.

Behind all this was scaremongering spin from Tory ministers Chris Grayling and Damian Green. They claim Britain’s welfare state is “a magnet for other parts of the world” that encourages “benefit tourism”.

But the figures reveal a different picture. There are 5.8 million people of working age claiming benefits in Britain. Of these just 6.4 percent were non-British when they first applied for a national insurance number. And many of those have been living in Britain for decades.

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) examined a sample of 9,000 “non-British” claimants. It found 54 percent of them had become British citizens since arriving here.

The DWP then tracked down three quarters of the sample. They found some 98 percent of these had the correct immigration status and were claiming benefits legitimately.

In total some 16.6 percent of working age British nationals claim benefits of some form. The corresponding figure for non-British workers is just 6.6 percent.

Channel 4 News examined the DWP figures and concluded there was “nothing to back” insinuations that migrants are coming to Britain to claim benefits.

In other words, Grayling and Green are fiddling the figures to take potshots at immigrants. It’s just another example of cheap racism and scapegoating from the Tories.

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What We Think
Tue 24 Jan 2012, 18:08 GMT
Issue No. 2287
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