We’re all going on a welfare holiday

This week we have witnessed another example of the overpowering directives fed down from Brussels bureaucrats and are left facing the wrath of the European Commission if we do not water down legislation.

The Department for Work and Pensions is working tirelessly on the Welfare Reform Bill to build a new system that is based on a fairer deal for claimants and the taxpayer. The Coalition Government recognises the need for an updated system that makes work pay, rewarding those who are willing and capable of working, whilst protecting the most vulnerable in our society. However, a decision emerging from Europe this week has the potential to undermine completely these reforms.

The European Commission is trying to force the UK to provide benefits to those who come to Britain with no intention to work and no other way of supporting themselves. This form of ‘benefit tourism’ could result in the British taxpayer spending over £2 billion a year in supporting people who have moved to the country with no British ties and who have never contributed to the UK tax system. This not only threatens our national sovereignty but also the vital link between the taxpayer and its own Government. If the European Court of Justice upholds this view then the economically inactive will be able to move freely between EU member states just to claim benefits, which in turn could be used to reside permanently in the UK. Employment Minister, Chris Grayling, has been trying to gather support from other member states, including France and Germany, however if this week’s decision is upheld then this lobbying will have been fruitless.

This latest development will lead to calls to question the UK’s position as an EU member state and its strength within the Union. As Conservative MPs across the country prepare for our annual conference in Manchester, there will be calls for David Cameron to push for a stronger position within Europe and ensure Brussels bureaucrats do not overrule our national Government during this crucial period. The benefits of being a member state within the European Union should not be underestimated, however as the Coalition Government prepares for radical reforms across the welfare system we must ensure our country’s development is not inhibited as a result of centrally governed directives.

1st October 2011