Claim: “European Commission: UK’s 600,000 benefits tourists no problem”

The Sun newspaper on 21 October 2013 published a headline claiming that a European Commission report had revealed there to be around 600,000 “non-active” (unemployed) migrants in the UK (611,779 “non-active” EU migrants were living in Britain in 2012, up from 431,687 in 2006). The Telegraph newspaper added that this was costing the NHS alone a total of £1.5 billion. Similar reports emerged that prompted heated debate and rhetoric on the subject of “benefit tourism”. The Conservative backbench MP Douglas Carswell commented, “…the European project has debased and debauched the original, noble idea of the welfare state. These figures show that the wave of benefit migrants has become a tsunami of economic refugees fleeing the eurozone crisis to try to find jobs here”.

True or False?

The assertion that there are “600,000 benefit tourists” in the UK, and, that the EC argued they were “no problem”, is considered to be false. Moreover, The Sun newspaper eventually printed a retraction of it’s claims and admitted there was “no evidence” of 600,000 “benefit tourists” in the UK, and that Brussels had not said that this was “not a problem”.

[Read more…]