The image of the benefits-scrounging migrant is potent, but there is no evidence that this is widespread, say Catherine Barnard, Professor in EU and employment law at the University of Cambridge, and Amy Ludlow, College Lecturer and Affiliated Faculty Lecturer at the University of Cambridge. Migrants come to work and make lives, not to get a free ride. This piece is part of the UCL European Institute’s commissioning partnership with openDemocracy.
The rhetoric is familiar: “Tax credits ‘turned UK into a honeypot for EU immigrants’: worker on minimum wage could receive additional £330 a week”, as one Daily Mail headline read.
The drip, drip of negative press about EU migrants and benefits has pushed the issue to the top of the political agenda. In his November 2015 speech, which set out what he would like from ‘Brussels’ in the renegotiation, the British prime minister David Cameron made it clear that he wanted to “tackle abuses of the right to free movement, and enable us to control migration from the European Union, in line with our manifesto”. Continue reading