Migrants 'should pay for our services'
By Bonnie Malkin
Last Updated: 2:30am BST 24/09/2007
Economic migrants could be forced to make a bigger contribution to the cost of public services, under plans outlined by the head of Britain's new equality watchdog.
Trevor Phillips, who launches the Commission for Equality and Human Rights this week, said that some migrants who stay in the UK only for a short time should pay more for the use of schools and hospitals.
He said the current immigration system was not built to deal with “shuttle migrants”, described as people who “virtually commute from Warsaw or Slovenia”, and recommended a “two-track immigration system” instead.
He said: “It's not that we don't want them to come here. But they put a stress on infrastructure.
“You might say they are people who are basically here for work…they and their employers might have to make a contribution, for social insurance for example.”
He added: “That would be one track, a kind of semi-citizenship for transitory workers where temporary migrants pay for public services such as health, education and welfare before being entitled to work here.”
The Government predicted 13,000 new arrivals each year from eastern European accession countries following the expansion of the EU in May 2004. To date there have been more than 700,000.
Under current EU law, the migrants are entitled to child benefits, tax credits, housing benefit and accommodation after being employed for a year.
Liam Byrne, the Immigration Minister, said the suggestions would be taken seriously.
Mr Phillips's comments follow a warning by the chief constable of Cambridgeshire, Julie Spence, that an influx of migrant workers had placed a strain on resources and left police struggling to cope with certain offences, such as knife crime.
Mr Phillips blamed growing public concern about the number of migrants entering Britain on “bad Government planning”.
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He said: “It is not controlled and it is not managed. There are definitely issues of competence over the numbers coming here.”