Claim: £1m a week in child allowances paid to children living overseas

On 4 February 2013, Sky News, The Telegraph and the Daily Mail said that £1m a week in child allowances was being paid to children living overseas. This claim surfaced again in the latest debate on immigration and benefits. In January 2014, The Telegraph and the Daily Mail reported that David Cameron wants to stop paying child benefit for children living abroad in countries such as Poland, whose parents work in the UK. Nick Clegg supports the policy, but both the Vice-President of the European Commission and Poland’s foreign minister have criticised it.

True or False?

The claim is largely true but we found that this represents only a fraction of total UK spending on child allowances.

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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”.

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