By: Tom Linden
British taxpayers are funding child benefit payments for 37,900 children who live in Poland, Treasury figures show. The money is going to support children who have remained behind in their homeland while one or both of their parent's live and works in the UK. The cost is estimated at more than £20 million a year. The number of claims has risen by 20 per cent in the past year, despite a slowing in the overall rate of immigration from Eastern Europe.
The figures, released to Parliament, reveal the impact of European Union rules which allow migrant workers who pay taxes in their host country to claim benefits there, even if they have left their families behind. The findings come as an ICM opinion poll for The Sunday Telegraph today shows that two thirds of voters -66 per cent- believe that the number of immigrants currently in Britain is too high.
Poles make up the majority of 51,000 children, from more than 30,000 families, living outside the UK who are supported with child benefit payments from British taxpayers. The payouts come despite assurances given by ministers, when the decision was taken to allow citizens of new EU member states including Poland to live and work freely in the UK, that new migrants would not immediately be eligible for most benefits.
Because British handouts are much higher than many other countries' payments particularly in Eastern Europe, where the cost of living is lower, the benefits appear huge too many migrants. In some cases the overseas claimants receive the full UK rate of benefit - £20 a week for the first child and £13.20 for others. In other cases, they receive benefit from their homeland's government plus a "top-up" payment from the UK government to raise the total to UK levels. In Poland, the equivalent of child benefit is around £5 a week or less.
The Treasury has refused to put a figure on the total cost of supporting youngsters abroad. Even if most of the Polish claimants are not getting the full rate from Britain, the total cost of the payouts to Polish families is estimated at more than £24 million a year. Between March 2008 and October 2009 the number of children living in Poland but supported by British handouts jumped from 31,400 to 37,900.
Children supported in other countries include 2,500 in Slovakia, 2,300 in French and 1,800 in Ireland. Only 500 received the support in Germany, and only four in Iceland. With Britain facing a debt crisis and the Government's child poverty strategy in tatters, it beggars belief that Gordon Brown is continuing to send millions of pounds of taxpayers' money to children who don't even live in this country. It's yet more evidence that he is completely out of touch with the concerns of ordinary families struggling to make ends meet in these difficult times.
There was an outcry before about children who have never set foot in Britain getting these benefits and the reaction was that it couldn't be true, but it is true and thousands of people do it. They feel it is their right; they are taking advantage of the rules that are there. They are not doing anything illegal; this is there for the taking. If a worker from an EU country pays tax in Britain the UK takes responsibility for paying the full amount of child benefit to children they have left behind unless another parent is working and claiming in the home country. However, even if another country is paying some benefits, Britain must add extra if the child's native country's benefit rate is lower than the UK's.
Is it April fool's day? Nope, it for real, it really is. OUR money is being given to foreign kids who do not even live here. What EU idiot thought of that one and what UK idiot backed it? I have never heard anything so daft have you; this if nothing else shows us why we must leave the craziness of the EU. Do the government not realise why most Polish workers go home after six months then return to the UK again. It is quite simple, under EU law if they are out of the UK for a minimum of 24 hrs they can then claim back all the tax they have paid.
So remind me again where the money is coming from to pay the child benefits to these foreign kids, as it is certainly not from the taxes their parents pay is it? Of course when the National Front is elected to power this stupidity will end as imagine how many returning injured British soldiers £24m would help!