Have we got immigrant paranoia?

(277 Posts)
Jac1978 Mon 25-Mar-13 10:20:02

David Cameron is vowing to end benefits for EU migrants after six months. Around half a million migrants come into the UK every year, one in five from the EU but half return home every year. Only 6% of benefits claimants are foreign born - is Cameron wrongly targetting a minority and just responding to media paranoia about immigrants or is it a real problem and is he right to make things harder for them? Are we blind to the benefits of immigration? Are Brits who emigrate abroad any better?

tiggytape Mon 25-Mar-13 10:31:36

I think he is tapping in to public feeling about this.
Just as Miliband did recently when he said the last Labour Government got it wrong on immigration and should have been limited and managed much more strictly.
Just as Clegg did recently when he said his previous plans (for a amnesty on illegal immigrants who have integrated and lived here many years) was a mistake and no longer part of their policy.

Politicians are generally wise to reflect the public's opinion on issues that are popular and felt strongly. The immigration issue has become one such topic, not because of racism or losing sight of needing skilled workers, but because of the shortages so many people feel personally right now eg housing, school place shortages, NHS treatments. It has become a hot topic so all politicians and parties are keen to show they're on top of it.

sleepyhead Mon 25-Mar-13 10:39:26

It'd be interesting to see some hard, unbiased figures on all this - pigs will fly more likely though.

The NHS stuff for eg - where are the costings for how they're going to collect this money? Chase defaulters etc? What are the financial implications if someone is turned away by an administrator but then has to be treated as an emergency case? How are people going to prove that they are entitled to NHS treatment? Will we all have to carry ID cards (financial cost?) or will only "foreign" looking people be asked to prove eligibility? How will frontline staff decide who is foreign enough to challenge?

I'll be extremely pissed off if this ends up being another ill-conceived money pit that benefits no-one, creates no solution but allows Cameron & his party to play tough to the gallery. Give me properly thought out policy, not soundbites.

wannabeEostregoddess Mon 25-Mar-13 10:44:28

You sound like a journalist.

niceguy2 Mon 25-Mar-13 11:03:33

I think Cameron has been forced into it by the recent results from UKIP.

To be fair there is a lot of anti-immigrant sentiment in the country partly because of the explosion of EU migrants over the last decade, the recession and whipped up by the tabloids.

All this shows me is that we need to be careful what we wish for. Immigration is a hot topic which deserves to be debated but knee jerk reactions help noone.

flatpackhamster Mon 25-Mar-13 11:06:35

wannabeEostregoddess

You sound like a journalist.

He/She is a journalist. Guardian or BBC (is there any difference?) would be my guess.

Why he/she can't eff off and do some actual research instead of lazily sucking up other people's ideas isn't clear. Oh wait, yes it is, they're a journalist.

Jac1978 Mon 25-Mar-13 11:21:50

Wtf? Am a stay at home mum trying to get an interesting intelligent debate going on here!!!!!! If you don't want to join in that's up to you but don't try to undermine the discussion!

sleepyhead Mon 25-Mar-13 11:33:49

Jac, unfortunately the troll hunters are also obsessed with journo hunting. It's very dull but there you are.

Apparently they have clues that send their journo-radar spinning. Your title sounds a bit like a headline so that's probably what got them birling this time.

There will be other threads about this which will be acceptable to them, so probably best to junk this one and just wait for one to be started by someone else. <sigh>

flatpackhamster Mon 25-Mar-13 11:43:59

Jac1978

Wtf? Am a stay at home mum trying to get an interesting intelligent debate going on here!!!!!! If you don't want to join in that's up to you but don't try to undermine the discussion!

I'm sorry if I accused you unfairly. It does seem to me that there have been an awful lot of threads started by you which sound 'journalisty'. Again, apologies if that isn't the case.

maisiejoe123 Mon 25-Mar-13 12:06:25

I think Cameron is wise to make a statement on what he is doing about immgration and the borders opening for two troubled countries next year.

Its seems very unfair that you could be right at the top of a council house waiting list having waited patiently in turn and then someone from another country who has not paid a penny into the system is deemed as being in more urgent need than you.

My question on all of this is that when for example a Romanian family of 5 turns up at Heathrow with no accomendation arranged who is responsible for finding them somewhere? I suspect a hostel of some sort but they wont be left to live on the streets. Surely just like Australia they need to prove that they can provide for themselves and that their skills are in demand but I guess the EU entry means they dont need to do this.

I can see all sorts of issues for certain parts of the country. Of course if you live in the Costwolds you will wonder what all the fuss is about.

frogwatcher1 Mon 25-Mar-13 12:22:52

Im not sure that living in the Cotswolds will stop people wondering what all of the fuss is about anymore. I live in a small rural town and work with colleagues who are housing based. They are preparing to provide housing for an overflow of people if it should happen and the South East can't cope - well that is what they tell me anyway. The expectation seems to be that there will be a lot of people arrive and that they will need schools and housing. My understanding is that the people in power want anybody moving into the country from the new Europe to be spread around the UK.

Camerons plan appears very badly thought out - what if a pregnant lady goes into labour and has no money - will we refuse to treat her?. What if the kids are sick in school and parents cant pay for GP? Of course all will continue to be treated free of charge as it will be too difficult to control and monitor.

It seems a mad plan to me - although I do understand that some control is needed as I have friends in the NHS and schools in the South East and they are really struggling to cope. I don't think he has it right though. To be honest, I think if I was in Romania, living in relative poverty and had poor education for my kids I would move anyway - even if just for the free education.

frogwatcher1 Mon 25-Mar-13 12:29:06

And of course my colleagues could have it wrong or I may have misunderstood. Not sure if the ops stats are right there is a problem anyway.

ChunkyPickle Mon 25-Mar-13 12:39:22

I don't know about the stats either, ie. whether it's actually worth the effort to stop it.

I do know, that every country I've lived in (and I've lived in a few) has expected me, as an immigrant to support myself and pay for my own healthcare. In some cases just for the first few months, in some cases permanently. I don't think that requiring new arrivals to have insurance, or to be employed for 3-6 months before they can access free healthcare, or 2-5 years before they can access other benefits is unreasonable.

Actually, that's not entirely true, in Singapore I could have moved into their equivalent of social housing if I wanted, for low rent - however I wouldn't have been allowed into Singapore unless I was earning enough for an employment pass and be deported if I lost that job.

On the other hand, children should be allowed into school, they should have their immunisations, they should be entitled to the care they need I think because I don't want to be part of a society that would stop children from doing that. I don't know how to square that with the idea that I seem to be happy to give them no-where to live/no money to eat - perhaps I hope that their parents will take responsibility for that and take them home.

ttosca Mon 25-Mar-13 12:49:49
ttosca Mon 25-Mar-13 12:53:47

I doubt that the Nasty party would be able to limit benefits to EU immigrants, as it would probably contravene EU rules.

In any case, does anyone have any evidence that large numbers of EU migrants are coming to the UK, not to work, but to simply claim benefits? Or is this more Daily Mail xenophobic scaremongering?

sleepyhead Mon 25-Mar-13 12:55:54

Chunky, my main problem with it is, in a healthcare system that is not generally set up for handling cash or payments by insurance, especially not our network of GP practices, what is the additional cost to the state of building in that infrastructure in such a way that payments can be collected quickly and reliably, can be accounted for and audited.

Systems that already have an insurance system in place, or routinely charge for primary care wouldn't have this issue. Will we find that a layer of bureaucracy is built into the system to collect small amounts of money from a small number of people? Will the "cure" cost us more than the problem? I really, really don't know.

There are no visas for people from European Member states which is the big immigration issue that people seem most concerned about so it's impossible as things stand to compel them to buy insurance before entry. For other foreign nationals I can see that making sense, but again how do you know at point of care, in a system that currently does not have a routine check of eligibility, who to challenge? What extra form-filling and administration does it build into the system to catch the few? If we all have to prove elligibility how will that be done? Will the inconvenience to the majority be balanced by savings made or will it just be done on colour of skin or accent?

wannabeEostregoddess Mon 25-Mar-13 13:02:55

I cant see how it will work without closing the borders. As a pp has said, what if someone needs treatment? Are we to have homeless migrants on our streets?

I would welcome tighter restrictions on who can enter the country, like those in Australia. But I cant see how loose border control and lack of basic provisions go together.

frogwatcher1 Mon 25-Mar-13 13:03:18

I don't expect there is any evidence that there will be large numbers of EU migrants coming to the UK with the intention of not working as I would doubt that will be the case.

I personally believe there will be quite large numbers of EU migrants in the next few years (because I know I would migrate given such a huge difference in the quality of life and education for my children such as that between some areas of Romania etc and the UK). When they get here they may find that they cant get work - its hard out there for anybody to get work at the moment in my experience - and hence there may end up being large numbers on benefits albeit not through their choice.

I think there is plenty of evidence, in certain parts of the country, that schools, hospitals, housing etc are struggling to cope with the population. In some towns there is evidence of a lot of EU migration.

However in some EU countries such as Spain there is also a lot of evidence in some areas of migration from the UK.

Its a difficult one and truly I don't think any of us really know the truth or whether there is a genuine economic problem.

ChunkyPickle Mon 25-Mar-13 13:05:37

Sleepy, I entirely take your point.

In Canada I was issued with my care card (just a plastic version of an NHS card really) which I had to provide for all treatment. Before I had that card (3 months residency to qualify), I was still treated, but received an invoice in the post for that treatment - or occasionally could pay on the spot.

I don't see an issue with one of the many pieces of paperwork you have to apply for when moving here being your NHS number (along with National Insurance number, Tax number etc.), and I don't see it as a 'papers please' id card situation to require people to use that number when accessing healthcare. If I went to France and needed care I would need to have my E111(or whatever it is now), or I would be charged. If I moved there I would arrange for their health card (I can't remember what that is called either) or I would be charged. We are part of the EU, and need to get up to speed with the idea that no everyone who roles up at the surgery will be entitled to care paid for by the UK - sometimes it will be another government, and sometimes it will be the person themselves.

We do have existing systems for that kind of charging - so that EU citizens can have their home country charged, and so that non-EU citizens can be billed, and I think that this system can be, and needs to be improved.

SherbetVodka Mon 25-Mar-13 13:06:03

To be honest, I think if I was in Romania, living in relative poverty and had poor education for my kids I would move anyway - even if just for the free education.

Romanian education is free. And I wouldn't assume that our education system is necessarily superior to theirs. Am pretty sure they don't have anything like as much disruptive classroom behaviour interfering with their kids' learning. (Ex-H is romanian, I'm not just guessing here)

sleepyhead Mon 25-Mar-13 13:18:36

We do have an NHS card at the moment, but it's just a piece of paper - there would be nothing to stop someone using someone else's NHS number so that would have to be overhauled (expensive), unless you made a rule that you had to have the paper plus a form of photographic ID, and good luck getting the majority of current NHS users (who tend to be elderly or otherwise vulnerable) to remember to do that...

I'm nitpicking, but really I worry that knee jerk statement like this end up costing the country in the long term.

I didn't personally see the problem when they were talking about bringing in ID cards, which would have solved some of the above, however vast swathes of the population didn't want anything to do with them, and in fact the ConDems got loud cheers from the media when they scrapped the plans. Ironic.

ttosca Mon 25-Mar-13 13:21:46

froggy-

> I think there is plenty of evidence, in certain parts of the country, that schools, hospitals, housing etc are struggling to cope with the population. In some towns there is evidence of a lot of EU migration.

Maybe, but why phrase that in terms of an 'immigration problem' when instead it validly be called a 'lack of infrastructure problem'?

We know that there is already a lack of housing, let alone affordable housing, for people in the UK. There haven't been enough houses built for decades.

Landlords are then able to charge exorbitant rents which many people can't afford, and so the state has to subsidize people in the form of housing benefits just so they have a roof over their heads - remember, most people claiming benefits of one sort or another are working full time.

And so people complain about "Can't afford the immigrants" or "Can't afford benefits payments" when the real problem is something more fundamental.

If the govt. built more houses then rents would go down. If rents went down, people would claim less in housing benefits.

If the minimum wage was raised to a living wage, more people could afford to live without state subsidies.

Do you see where I'm going with this? In all these cases the govt. is trying to divert attention and criticism towards immigrants or the poor or your neighbour because it is failing to live up to its job in managing the economy properly.

frogwatcher1 Mon 25-Mar-13 13:22:26

The difference I am referring to is that my understanding is that some sectors of society in Romania have it really hard compared to here. I have dealt with some people through work who settled here as migrants (working) and they had it really hard - nothing that we would accept here in UK. They were living in tents at home, and were treated as outcasts yet were lovely responsible people. I am going by what they told me - I have no experience personally so will bow to your better knowledge Sherbet.

If Romania (and other EU countries) have better education, better standard of living and probably more work (as it is getting difficult here) - why would anybody bother to come to UK? Yet there is significant EU migration here? Genuine question as personally I am not a fan of the UK and would love to live in some of the other EU countries but have committments here and can't go. I have yet to understand why people would choose to come.

ChunkyPickle Mon 25-Mar-13 13:23:59

I might be naive, but I think that most people are honest.

There was no photo id with my Canadian card and that seemed to work fine, there's no photo id with Tax or NI numbers and sure, there's some fraud, but as a rule it works out. The existing system would be fine.

I think that if you went to a doctor with someone else's NHS number you would be rumbled a lot of the time - purely by things like not knowing your history or date of birth etc.

I don't like ID cards - I don't like the idea of being required to always carry something to prove who I am, and I like even less the idea that one piece of identity like that will come to be more trusted than anything else about me - people have a habit of blindly trusting what a computer tells them and I think that fastening all of me to one card can only lead to trouble.

maisiejoe123 Mon 25-Mar-13 13:24:00

And I would move too. If you were offered something for 'free' that was much better than what you had before of course you would take it. The fact that it is funded by others is probably not your highest concern.

From a economic point of view though it cannot work. The borders will be open and you dont necessarily need to prove or be capable of offering anything to the new country.

This might not be popular but there is a large crime problem regarding a certain ethic group of people near where I live. Perhaps if the one strike and your out were considered? Committ any crime and be convicted and you need to go back to the country of orgin. Not suggesting for just Uk but for the whole of the EU.

If you visit a country with the aim on stealing or comitting other crimes (regardless of what country you are coming from) you automatically go back.

Otherwise what is the answer....

Who is going to pay for people who want to move for economic advantage and to gain benefits they wouldnt have a hope in hell of getting anywhere else?

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