UK & World News

  • 6 January 2014, 2:38

Migrants 'Should Wait Five Years For Benefits'

The leader of the UK Independence Party has told Sky News he would like to see the three-month waiting time before new migrants can claim out-of-work benefits extended to five years.

Nigel Farage told the Murnaghan programme he thought the longertime scale would be "more reasonable" after immigration restrictions were lifted for Romanians and Bulgarians.

Mr Farage said the Prime Minister was not doing enough to curb immigration and that it should not be the migrants who are made the scapegoats.

He suggested only people earning an income on a par with the national average should be allowed into Britain.

"We should be selective. The single most important criteria should be that we want people coming to this country who have got a skill to bring, who economically are going to earn more than 27,500."

The UKIP leader said he did not think politicians had control over immigration but that it was "unconscionable" to ask settled migrants to leave.

"You cannot say to people, if you have come legally, that you must go."

Romanian singer Monica Irimia, who performed as one of the Cheeky Girls, told Sky News she did not think the benefits system is the attraction for migrants but it is the higher incomes instead.

Wages in Romania can be up to four times lower than in the UK.

"Most people who are coming over here are not planning to live over here for a long time, just to work, with contracts on construction sites or farming to earn more money for their families back home," Ms Irimia said.

The Prime Minister has said he will not put a figure on how many people are expected to come to the UK because he wants to avoid the "ludicrous" mistakes made by the previous government.

He told the Andrew Marr Show: "We're not making a forecast because I think it's unlikely we'll get that forecast right.

"Because remember, it's not just Britain that's had to lift its controls. At the end of seven years of transitional controls, they are also being lifted in France and in Germany, in eight other European countries, so to try and make a forecast, I think, would be wrong.

"I think my job, what's much more important, is to put in place other measures to make sure that people who do come here are coming here to work and not to claim benefits, and that's what I've done."

Ed Miliband has said an influx of low-skilled migrant workers will make life harder for Britons facing a cost of living squeeze as he pledged action to close a legal loophole used to exploit cheap foreign labour.

The Labour leader said he wanted to address "understandable" public fears over lifting work restrictions on Bulgarians and Romanians, conceding some UK nationals "lose out" as a result of new arrivals.

But while he backed stronger border controls and "fair" benefit curbs, the key was ending the country's "chronic dependency on low-skill, low-wage labour", he wrote in the Independent on Sunday.

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