David Cameron: Curb migrants' benefits

Prime Minister says it is 'absolutely vital' to place restrictions on new member states of the EU

The Prime minster says he wants to reduce migrants’ access to state handouts and put tighter controls on the amount of citizens from new EU countries coming to the UK looking for work.

Speaking to The Times, Mr Cameron was also upbeat about the “good rate of growth” in the UK economy and said he was pleased with having “massively turned round the welfare system” during his first term as Prime Minister.

Mr Cameron is set to make a referendum on Europe a key part of his 2015 election pitch, with a vote on the issue due before the end of 2017.

Speaking about his efforts to forge an agreement with Angela Merkel on Britain’s place in the EU, the Prime Minister said: “Could the whole problems of immigration, problems with welfare tourism .... be part of ... making sure that we have a European relationship that works for Britain? Yes of course it can.

“We should consider all of these things. I think we particularly need to look at the rules on benefits. One of the advantages of British membership of the EU is that British people go and live and work in other countries. But I think there is a problem with people living (here) and not working.”

The Prime minister said the “transitional controls” placing restrictions on new member states had been “absolutely vital and we need to look at what more we can do on that front”.

Me Cameron conceded, however, that he was not able to stop temporary restrictions imposed on the type of jobs open to Bulgarian and Romanian migrants from expiring in January 2014.

The Prime Minister said he was pleased with recent efforts to cut the budget deficit and was confident that the UK would be held as an example of fiscal improvement at the G20 summit. He said: “My first G20 was in Toronto in 2010 and I'm sitting around the table with the largest budget deficit, the biggest crisis in my banking system and the economy most in need of sea change, and I'm going to be able to turn up to this one, three years later, with UK specifically mentioned in the communique, singled out, as showing a good rate of growth this year.”

Forecasting his plans for the next  election campaign, Mr Cameron added: “I think we'll be able to say in 2015 'of course we haven't finished the job, the deficit is down by a lot - re-elect us and we'll complete the work. Of course we haven't got everyone off welfare and into work but we have massively turned round the welfare system, re-elect us and we'll finish the job'. The British public knew this was never going to be easy. We were elected on the premise of saying 'it's going to be tough'.”

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