EU migrants face new curbs on claiming benefits in an attempt to reduce Britain’s 'pull factor'

However, the moves are certain to be seen as an attempt to reduce the threat to the two Coalition parties from Ukip at next month’s European Parliament elections

Political Editor

Migrants from the EU are to lose their right to claim child benefit as soon as they arrive in Britain in the Government’s latest curbs on state handouts for EU nationals.

Ministers will also force unemployed EU migrants with poor spoken English to improve their language skills or face losing their right to claim jobseeker’s allowance (JSA).

The Coalition rushed in a three-month delay on claiming JSA just before Romanians and Bulgarians won the right to work in Britain from 1 January. From July, all EU migrants will need to live in the UK for three months before they can claim child benefit and child tax credits, which top up the incomes of low-earning families with children. People from outside the EU often have visa restrictions which prevent having "recourse to public funds" while in Britain.

Although ministers say the aim is to reduce Britain's "pull factor", their latest moves are bound to be seen as an attempt to reduce the threat to the two Coalition parties from the anti-EU UK Independence Party (Ukip) at next month’s European Parliament elections. Some opinion polls suggest that Nigel Farage's party could push the Conservatives into third place.

The new measures stop short of ending child benefit for EU migrants whose children do not join them in the UK and remain in their home country. Ministers still hope to halt such payments but have not yet found a way to do so without breaching EU rules. Child benefit is worth £20.30 a week for the first child and £13.40 for each additional one. Nicky Morgan, the Treasury Economic Secretary, said: "The Government is building a system that is fair and consistent, one that supports those who want to work hard. These changes send a strong message that our welfare system is not open to abuse and will deter those who think that they can move to the UK primarily to claim benefits. Making work pay is part of our long-term plan to ensure that Britain's growing economy and dynamic jobs market deliver for those who work hard and play by the rules.2

From Wednesday, new claimants eligible for JSA will no longer have routine access to interpretation services at Jobcentre Plus offices, which currently cost taxpayers £3m a year. From 28 April, their spoken English will be tested in England. If claimants' language is found to be a barrier to looking for work, they will be expected to improve it within six months. If they refuse to get training or do not "make an effort", they could have their benefit stopped or cut.

Government sources said ministers want to "call time" on subsidising migrants who do not learn English, which hinders their ability to find a job and integrate into British life. Census figures show that across England, 1.7 per cent of the population have either poor or no spoken English - rising to 9 per cent in some London boroughs. Some 5 per cent of the population does not speak English as a first language, including 9 per cent in London, but this does not take account of an ability to speak it as their second language.

The curbs on interpretation services is expected to reduce spending. The Department of Work and Pensions handles around 400,000 interpretation queries each year and provides the service for more than 140 languages. The most common being interpreted are Slovak, Polish and Czech. 

Jobcentre Plus staff will still have the discretion to allow interpreters to be used to protect vulnerable claimants.  Benefit fraud investigations will still use translation services. The changes will not affect existing claimants or people who are deaf, hard of hearing or who have a speech impediment.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Life and Style
love + sex A new study has revealed the average size - but does that leave men outside the 'normal' range being thought of as 'abnormal'?
News
Bill O'Reilly attends The Hollywood Reporter 35 Most Powerful People In Media Celebration at The Four Seasons Restaurant on April 16, 2014 in New York City
media It is the second time he and the channel have clarified statements
Sport
Brendan Rodgers
football The Liverpool manager will be the first option after Pep Guardiola, writes Ian Herbert
News
people
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
2015 General Election
May2015

Poll of Polls

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Key Sales Account Manager - OTE £35,000

£25000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Have you got a proven track rec...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive - OTE £40,000

£15000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a great opportunity for...

Recruitment Genius: Senior Designer / Design Director

£38000 - £48000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This B2B content marketing agen...

Austen Lloyd: Law Costs HOD - Southampton

£50000 - £60000 per annum + Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: An outstanding new...

Day In a Page

Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot
Poldark star Heida Reed: 'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'

Poldark star Heida Reed

'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'
The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn