contribute to our economy, however tough new rules will prevent them
accessing benefits for two years and possibly longer, home secretary
David Blunkett announced today.
From 1 May nationals of the new member countries will be able to move
freely around the EU without immigration restrictions. A new
registration scheme, also announced today, will enable the government
to very closely monitor the numbers of people coming to the UK from
the new EU countries and impose restrictions to protect the labour
market if necessary.
The UK has decided to allow workers to come legally to this country
to help fill labour shortages and avoid fuelling the sub-economy.
The government is also amending the rules under which a range of
social security benefits and public services are provided, including
access to housing support, health care and child benefit, to ensure
that they are not abused.
Mr Blunkett, said:
'The measures we are announcing today send a very clear message - if
you register you can come to the UK to work legally and contribute
but you cannot claim benefits.
'The UK has always welcomed hard working immigrants seeking to better
themselves and contribute to our prosperity. Tougher benefit rules
will make sure our generosity is not exploited.
'The obligation we have placed on working accession nationals to
register with us is part of our wider crack down on illegal working.
It will also pave the way for the introduction of ID cards which will
eventually be given to all EU nationals living in the UK. If the
registration scheme shows an imbalance in the labour market we will
'These measures will enable the workers we need to work here legally
rather than fuelling the sub-economy - a modern-day slave trade,
exploiting migrant workers and undercutting UK employees.
'This will build on our co mmitment to a flexible but regulated
migration policy. t is in Britain's best interest to welcome legal
overseas workers to help fill skills gaps and the 550,000 vacancies
in our labour market.'
The new 'workers registration scheme' will enable the government to
monitor in what region and what types of employment accession
nationals are coming. If the labour market comes under pressure and
UK jobs are threatened, restrictions could be re-introduced. As soon
as they have found work, nationals from new member countries will
have to register under the scheme. This will prove they have
permission to reside and work in the UK - and will be checked by
Other government departments will be bringing forward regulations to
ensure that income-related benefits, housing support and child
benefit are not abused.
To ensure that those affected are aware of the new rules before they
come to the UK, the Home Office is working with the International
Organisation for Migration (IOM) to put in place an information
campaign in the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary and Poland. The
campaign will communicate a simple message - 'You can come to the UK
to work, if you register, but you cannot claim benefits'.
1. The home secretary made an announcement to the House of Commons on
2. Regulations will be introduced to set up the workers registration
scheme and to give the right to reside here to registered workers,
and to work-seekers from the eight Accession Countries only if they
are self-sufficient. The regulations will be laid in March 2004 to
come into effect on 1 May 2004.
3. The Department for Work and Pensions will amend social security
legislation so that only people with a right to reside in the UK will
have access to Income Support, income-based Job Seeker's allowance,
State Pension Credit, Housing Benefit and Council Tax Benefit.